After Thursday, the rest of the hockey world might come around.
Center Paul Stastny scored at 7:27 of overtime, and the Avalanche
rallied to beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 in Game 1 of their Western
Conference quarterfinal series.
Stastny, who sent the game to overtime with a goal with 13.4 seconds
left in regulation, took a pass from rookie center Nathan Mackinnon
and beat goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead
in the series.
"That overtime one, all five guys end up touching it, (defenseman
Tyson) Barrie tracks a couple of guys and once he gives it to
(Nathan) MacKinnon I saw their defense diving in at Razor I was
trying to yell at him because I knew I was open," Stastny said.
"When you get the puck you want a quick release because you know the
goalie's not going to be ready. It was fortunate to squeeze in."
MacKinnon finished with three assists, two of which came on
Game 2 is Saturday.
Colorado trailed 4-2 after two periods, but left winger Jamie McGinn
cut the margin in half early in the third.
The Avalanche pulled goaltender Semyon Varlamov for an extra skater
with 3:01 remaining, and it paid off with seconds remaining.
Defenseman Tyson Barrie's shot bounced to Stastny on the right side,
and he beat Bryzgalov to tie it up.
"Almost did it at four minutes," coach Patrick Roy said of pulling
Varlamov with so much time left.
Center Kyle Brodziak and left winger Erik Haula scored 2:04 apart
late in the second to give Minnesota a 4-2 lead.
Center Charlie Coyle and defenseman Ryan Suter also scored for the
"A loss is a loss," Suter said. "It's not the way you want to start
out but it is what it is and you have to be better for the next
Bryzgalov made 26 saves for Minnesota, which is trying to duplicate
its 2003 first-round upset of the Avalanche, when it was seeded
sixth but rallied to beat No. 3 Colorado in seven games.
Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly had a goal and an assist, and left
winger Gabe Landeskog also scored for Colorado. Varlamov stopped 29
The Wild looked in control in the second by beating Varlamov three
times on 12 shots. Suter gave the Wild a 2-1 lead with a power-play
goal midway through the period, and after O'Reilly tied it with a
blistering slap shot, Haula and Brodziak put Minnesota ahead by two.
"Going into the third I felt like we had momentum," Haula said. "I
thought we played well the first 10 minutes. It's a 60-minute game
and I guess that's just what happens in playoff games sometimes. Now
we've got to just forget about it and bounce back Saturday."
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McGinn gave Colorado life in the third. O'Reilly stole a bad pass
from Brodziak in the Minnesota end and put a shot on Bryzgalov, who
made the save. McGinn knocked in the rebound to cut the deficit to
one with 12:47 remaining.
That set up Stastny's heroics, even though at first he didn't
realize he had tied it.
"I saw something, I don't know if (Bryzgalov) got a piece of it or
not. I didn't see it but then I saw everyone erupt. I was excited.
It's just one of those you settle and try to shoot as quick as you
can. It was a relief."
The young Avalanche settled some nerves by scoring first. Landeskog
delivered a big hit on Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin, then
tipped in a pass from Stastny at 13:14 of the first period.
"A lot of people, when they go into a game, are nervous and they say
take a hit or give a hit," Landeskog said. "That's kind of the
mentality. You get roughed up and you get right into it. That was
the feeling tonight."
The celebration didn't last long. Coyle beat a sprawling Varlamov
less than two minutes later to tie the game at 1.
NOTES: Minnesota LW Mike Rupp served the second game of a four-game
suspension for his hit on St. Louis RW T.J. Oshie last week. He can
return for Game 4 of this series. ... Avalanche C John Mitchell
(head) did not play, and he is listed as day-to-day. Coach Patrick
Roy said he expects Mitchell to play at some point in the playoffs
but won't put a timetable on his return. ... The Wild are in the
playoffs for consecutive years for the first time since 2007 and
2008. ... Colorado D Cory Sarich, out since sustaining a back injury
on April 1, was scratched. He is skating and is improving, Roy said.
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