The #WhyNotUs Avalanche seemed to be headed toward a #BecauseThat'sWhy answer from the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series Thursday night.

A team that appeared nervous much of the night in a favored, home-ice role against the Wild regrouped to pull out a nearly miraculous 5-4 overtime victory at a sold-out, delirious Pepsi Center.

Paul Stastny tied the score with 13.4 seconds in regulation, then won the game at 7:27 of overtime. Game 2 is Saturday night, also at the Pepsi Center.

Erik Johnson made the inspirational play of the game for the Avalanche with 1:32 left in regulation — then contributed to Stastny's tying goal, sending the series opener into overtime.

With the Wild leading 4-3, and the Avs with an empty net, Johnson crashed into the goalpost and swiped away the puck to prevent a goal that likely would have clinched the win for the Wild. After that stunning save, Avs coach Patrick Roy called a timeout and drew up strategy, but fortunate bounces also helped Colorado pull off Stastny's tying goal.

After the Wild had control of the puck but failed to clear it out of the Avs' zone, Johnson's attempted shot against Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov deflected off to the right side to Stastny, who had time and space to get off a shot past a late-sliding Bryzgalov. Tie game, 4-4. Overtime.

At that point, the #WhyNotUs Avs team of the regular season seemed back.

"What a comeback!" Johnson said. "That's the kind of stuff you dream of when you're a kid, winning playoff games like that."

About his game-saving play, Johnson said: "At first, I didn't think it had enough speed, then I didn't think I was going to be able to get to it in time."

Roy breathed a sigh of relief, along with the Colorado fans, when Johnson saved the day.

"Johnson's play was certainly a key moment," Roy said. "There were a lot of key moments. Sometimes you don't always play your best game, but we found a way to win. I liked how resilient we were. You could have all kinds of plans you want, but when your team is resilient like that, it was the key. I think this win will give us some momentum going forward."

The loose, no-pressure underdog Avs of the regular season seemed nervous and uncomfortable in the role of home-ice favorites for much of the first two periods, especially the second.

"We had a lot of guys playing their first playoff game and maybe we were a little nervous at first," Statsny said. "I think we started playing more of our game in the end."

The Avs, good at protecting leads with smart, fundamental team defense and goaltending during the regular season, made a few uncharacteristic mistakes that allowed Minnesota to take a 4-2, second-period lead. One of the biggest miscues was a slow line change that the Wild took advantage of for a tiebreaking goal by forward Erik Haula with 3:52 left in the second period, nearly four minutes after Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly scored on a slap shot to make it a 2-2 game. That goal got the Pepsi Center rocking.

With the Avs' fourth line scrambling to get on the ice following a line change, Haula was alone on the left side near the Avs' blue line and accepted a lead pass from teammate Jonas Brodin. He sneaked down the left side with a step on the field and slipped a shot through the 5-hole of Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov to make it 3-2.