DENVER (Ticker) -- The Minnesota Wild picked the perfect time to play their best game at the Pepsi Center.
Marian Gaborik and Wes Walz scored 25 seconds apart in the second period and Dwayne Roloson made 39 saves to lead the Wild to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game One of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Winless in eight previous visits to Colorado, the Wild entered their inaugural postseason with a splash, scoring three goals in a 4:20 span of the second to take a commanding lead.
Defenseman Filip Kuba converted a power play 5 1/2 minutes into the period for the first playoff goal in team history. Gaborik followed with a power-play tally 3:55 later and Walz netted his fourth career postseason goal to give the Wild a 3-0 cushion.
"We're playing the best team in the league, we're not fooling ourselves over here," Walz said. "They could have definitely deserved a better fate than what they got tonight. ... We're obviously happy with the win, but we don't want to waste too much energy. We're going to need all our energy in the next six games or in however many it's going to take."
Roloson withstood an 18-shot attack in the first period before making 21 saves the rest of the way for his first playoff win since 1999 with Buffalo.
"We played a smart game," Roloson said. "We had a lot of old guys and a lot of young guys that hadn't played in the playoffs for a long time. We got rid of some of the nerves and we were able to settle down."
"(The Avalanche) could have scored a ton of goals," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire added. "This is a team that has a great offense, they move the puck well. Our goalie was extremely good tonight. They have to miss the net at different times, otherwise it gets done."
Andrew Brunette also scored for Minnesota, which finished the regular season with an NHL-best 31-4-1 record when netting the first goal of the game.
Joe Sakic and Maurice Richard Trophy winner Milan Hejduk tallied for the Avalanche, who had been 14-0-2-1 at home since January 16.
"There's a fine line between the best teams and the ones that made the playoffs as the sixth, seventh or eighth seed," Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy said. "Nobody expected a free ride."
Game Two is Saturday in Colorado.
After a scoreless first period in which the Avalanche held an 18-3 advantage in shots, Alex Tanguay took a holding penalty to give the Wild their first power play.
Less than a minute into it, Kuba cut in from the right point, took a feed from Brunette from the left side of the net and beat Roy from low in the faceoff circle at 5:33.
"It was important, especially the timing of it," Brunette said. "They were all over us until that point. We barely had any scoring chances. So, yeah, it was a key to get that goal."
"I thought they made a great play on that first goal," Roy said. "The guy on the goal line made a pass across. I thought I almost had it."
With just two goals in his last 19 regular-season contests, Gaborik tallied with the man advantage to put Colorado in a 2-0 hole.
Cliff Ronning, the Wild's most playoff-tested veteran with 105 games played, fired a slap shot from the blue line that Roy stopped with his left pad. Grabbing the rebound at the bottom of the right circle, Gaborik banked it off the inside of Roy's right pad and into the net at 9:28.
"It was important to get as many shots as we could," Gaborik said. "It's just the first game. Now we have to try to get ready for the next one."
Off the ensuing faceoff, Avalanche defenseman Martin Skoula was muscled off the puck along the left boards in his own zone. Pascal Dupuis picked it up and headed toward the net before trying to stuff in a backhander. Roy made the save but could not deny Walz from the doorstep as Minnesota grabbed a three-goal cushion.
"They get a couple of quick ones and all of a sudden, it's like, 'How did that happen.' It happened pretty quick,'" Colorado defenseman Adam Foote said. "That's the playoffs. It's such a mental game and hopefully, we'll learn real quick from that."
"It's tough to be down 3-0 against a team that's going to sit back," Avalanche center Peter Forsberg added. "We just got to make sure we get the lead next game and play better."
Sakic got Colorado on the board with 6:38 left in the period, putting Steven Reinprecht's cross-slot pass inside the right goalpost for his 66th career playoff tally.
The Avalanche had a chance to cut the deficit to a goal midway through the third but failed to register a shot during a power play.
"It's only one game and we've been here before," Sakic said. "So we've just got to make sure we come out and have a good day tomorrow and be ready to go Saturday."
With four minutes to go, Roy committed his seemingly annual puckhandling gaffe, giving Minnesota a 4-1 advantage.
Roy coughed up the puck behind the net to Brunette and had trouble making it back to the crease. From the left side, Brunette put a backhander in front that went off defenseman Greg de Vries' skate and in for the second postseason goal of his career.
"I just thought tonight the bounces weren't there," Roy said. "One hit inside my leg, bounced to the other side of my arm and went in. This is a night where I could say I could've easily left the building with one goal against me. I'm sure the guys think the same way."
The NHL leader with 50 goals during the regular season, Hejduk answered 61 seconds later with his 22nd playoff tally, but it was not enough for Colorado, which fell to 5-2 in its last seven playoff series openers at home.
"We're not completely happy with how we played," Walz said. "We did play a lot of the game in our end of the rink. They took a lot of the play to us. We're going to have to play better in Game Two if we want the same result."
"Confidence-wise, we proved that we can close them out a little bit," Brunette added. "We know we were lucky getting this win tonight, and we know we've got to play better if we want to win this series."