With the Wild sagging visibly in the third period, Jose Theodore came to the rescue Thurdsay night. Theodore, who hadn't played since Jan. 11, was brilliant in protecting a one-goal lead while the Wild killed a four-minute penalty to Martin Havlat for high sticking.

Actually, the Wild's forwards and defensemen didn't do much to kill it. In fact, some of the penalty killers were counterproductive, putting the puck on Avalanche players' sticks instead of clearing the zone. But Theodore kept the tying goal off the board.

"Yeah, another outstanding game for him," said Andrew Brunette, who scored two of Minnesota's four goals. "I just feel bad we gave up that late one on him."

The Avs scored in the final seconds to make it a 4-3 final. Theodore stopped 38 of 41 shots.

"In the third, they were really putting pucks through the crease," Theodore said. "But we were doing a good job of boxing out and then clearing it."