The Minnesota Wild forced a Game 7 in their first round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center for the second time in team history. Both times, the Wild answered every Avalanche goal before sending the division champs home with an overtime loss.
Eleven years ago, the overmatched and highly-overlooked Wild stunned the Avalanche in overtime when Andrew Brunette stickhandled around then-Avalanche goaltender and now head coach Patrick Roy for the game-winner just over three and a half minutes into overtime.
Nino Niederreiter did the honors Wednesday with a back-bar ringing wrist shot over the glove arm of Semyon Varlamov five minutes and two seconds into the extra session. Niederreiter had Kyle Brodziak to pass to on the backdoor. Niederreiter looked that way moments before taking the shot. The offseason trade acquisition finished the game with two goals and an assist. All three points came in the third period and overtime.
The offseason trade acquisition answered an early third period goal by Paul Statsny with laser over the blocker of Varlamov near four minutes later. He then set up Jared Spurgeon to tie the game again with two minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the third period to force overtime.
The Avalanche (3-4) got the board first with a controversial that everyone except referee Wes McCauley perplexed less than three minutes into the game. Avalanche defenseman Nick Holden knocked a loose puck past Darcy Kuemper. The controversial part was that Avalanche forward Jamie McGinn, under his own power, knocked Kuemper’s arm into the net and did not allow him the chance to make the save. McCauley initially waved it off, but did so because he thought it was played with a high stick. Goaltender interference is not reviewable and the puck was not played with a high stick so it counted.
Mikko Koivu responded just over five minutes later with a one-timer from the sideboard off a pass from Charlie Coyle over Varlamov’s glove arm. The Wild found Varlamov’s weak spot. He always drops his glove when he goes into the butterfly – as Fox Sports North’s Wes Walz stated throughout the series. The Wild exploited that weakness with four top shelf goals.
The Wild return to action Friday for Game 1 of their second round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
No. 3 – Jared Spurgeon. The Wild defenseman scored a goal.
No. 2 – Dany Heatley. The Wild forward scored a goal and added two assists.
No. 1 – Nino Niederreiter. The Wild forward scored two goals, including the winner in overtime. He also had an assist.
Minnesota……1 1 2 1 – 5
Colorado…..…2 0 2 0 – 4
First Period – 1, Colorado, Holden 3 (McGinn, Duchene), 2:52 (pp). 2, Minnesota, Koivu 1 (Coyle, Moulson), 8:04. 3, Colorado, McGinn 2 (Hishon, Wilson), 13:38. Penalties – Niederreiter, MIN (hooking), 1:50; McGinn, COL (hooking), 3:57.
Second Period – 4, Minnesota, Heatley 1 (Granlund, Brodin), 7:27. Penalties – Duchene, COL (cross checking), :33; Hishon, COL (high sticking), 5:25; Koivu, MIN (hooking), 8:46; Veilleux, MIN (hooking), 13:44.
Third Period – 5, Colorado, Statsny 5 (Parenteau, Guenin), 2:55. 6, Minnesota, Niederreiter 1 (Brodziak, Prosser), 6:33. 7, Colorado, Johnson 1 (Parenteau, Duchene), 11:16. 8, Minnesota, Spurgeon 2 (Niederreiter, Brodziak), 17:33. Penalties – None.
Overtime – 9, Minnesota, Niederreiter 2 (Brodziak, Heatley), 5:02. Penalties – None.
Shots on goal – Minnesota 12-8-10-5 35. Colorado 9-5-7-1 22.
Goalies – Minnesota, Kuemper (17-21), Bryzgalov (1-1). Colorado, Varlamov (30-35). Referees – Eric Furlatt, Wes McCauley. Linesmen – Brad Kovachik, Scott Cherrey.