Wild topple Avs to force Game 7
By Jess Myers
ST. PAUL — Left wing Zach Parise broke a 2-2 tie in the third period with his second goal of the game, and the Minnesota Wild forced a seventh game in their first-round playoff series with the Colorado Avalanche, winning 5-2 Monday.
Parise also scored in the first period and assisted on a goal by center Mikael Granlund as the Wild sprinted to an early 2-0 lead, but Colorado eventually captured the momentum.
With the teams matching each other stride for stride in the final period, Parise tipped a shot by center Mikko Koivu for the eventual game-winner with 6:29 remaining. Right winger Jason Pominville and defenseman Marco Scandella scored empty-net goals in the final two minutes as the Wild forced a deciding game, which will be played Wednesday night in Denver.
The winner of Wednesday’s final game will face the Chicago Blackhawks in round two.
Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper finished with 21 saves.
Center Paul Stastny and defenseman Nick Holden scored for Colorado, and Avalanche goalie Seymon Varlamov stopped 18 shots.
The Wild ignited the crowd early, scoring just 49 seconds into the game.
Avalanche rookie center Nathan MacKinnon was whistled for holding on the first shift of the game, and Minnesota’s power play clicked immediately. Varlamov stopped a shot by Parise, but the rebound went to Ryan Suter. Parise tipped the defenseman’s shot past Varlamov for a 1-0 lead.
Near the midway point of the first, Minnesota went up 2-0 on Granlund’s second goal of the playoffs. After a feed from Pominville, Granlund ripped a shot from the right circle that found a tiny gap between Varlamov’s knees.
The Wild had a five-on-three power play for more than a minute late in the first and looked poised to take a 3-0 lead, testing Varlamov with two shots. Their attempt at a third shot changed the momentum of the game.
Suter fanned on a shot from the point just as Stastny was getting out of the penalty box. The whiff allowed center Ryan O’Reilly to control the puck and pass to Stastny, who was all along at center ice. Stastny came in on a breakaway and made it 2-1 with a wrist shot the beat Kuemper on the stick side.
Colorado’s power play, which struggled throughout the series, finally clicked in the second period. O’Reilly’s cross-ice pass to Holden led to a tap-in goal with Kuemper out of position, creating a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes.
Center Matt Duchene, who led the Avalanche offensively during the regular season, returned to the lineup Monday. He had missed the team’s previous 13 games after suffering a knee injury in late March.
NOTES: After having the 27th-ranked penalty kill unit in the regular season, the Wild turned into the league’s best playoff team with a man in the box. Prior to the Avalanche power play goal in the second period of Game 6, the Wild killed 19 of Colorado’s first 20 power plays in the series, allowing only an empty-net power-play goal late in Game 2. ... With C Matt Duchene’s return to the lineup, the Avalanche scratched rookie C Joey Hishon, who made his NHL debut in Game 4. Hishon did not record a point in the two games he played. ... Still smarting from a few controversial non-calls in the Wild’s Game 5 loss in Colorado, the sellout crowd in Minnesota gave a rousing round of boos when the on-ice officials were introduced prior to Monday’s game. ... Avalanche veteran F Alex Tanguay, who played just 16 regular-season games and had hip surgery in February, was on the ice for Colorado’s optional skate Sunday. He is not expected back until next season.