DENVER (AP) — Paul Stastny sweated out the trade deadline, wondering if his big, expiring contract and Colorado's desire to beef up its blue line might lead to his departure from Denver.
Instead, he stuck around to help the Avalanche end a four-year playoff drought.
That decision by executive vice president Joe Sakic to keep him in the Mile High City paid huge dividends Thursday night when Stastny sparked Colorado's 5-4 win in overtime against the Minnesota Wild in their Western Conference playoff series opener.
"He's obviously a really good player," said Wild defenseman and fellow Olympian Ryan Suter. "He's a really good player. He's good in the faceoff circle, good on the power play. He's just the total package, he plays hard on both ends of the ice."
Stastny tied it with 13.4 seconds left in regulation, then beat Ilya Bryzgalov with another close-in wrist shot 7:27 into overtime, capping Colorado's comeback from a two-goal deficit after two periods.
Those were the only two shots on goal that Stastny, who made $6.6 million this season, took all night.
Stastny is the first player in Stanley Cup Playoff history to score the game-tying goal in the last 15 seconds of regulation and then score the winning goal in OT, the Avs said based on information from the Elias Sports Bureau.
But Stastny, who also had an assist, credited his coach's bold moves and teammate Erik Johnson's hustle after his first career three-point playoff performance.
The frenetic finish included a daring roll of the dice by Patrick Roy is his playoff coaching debut: pulling goaltender Semyon Varlamov with 3:01 remaining for an extra skater.
"It's the team we've got," Stastny said. "We're confident in ourselves. It starts with our coach. Three minutes left and he pulls the goalie, he has the confidence in us scoring and always playing to win. He never sits back. If he thinks it's the best chance, then we believe in it, too."
Pulling Varlamov, who led the NHL with a franchise record 41 wins, one more than Roy had when Colorado won its last Stanley Cup in 2000-01, nearly backfired when Erik Haula slapped a shot across the ice that headed for the empty net as the Pepsi Center crowd grew silent.
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