In the biggest game of the season, they turned the tables on the
Avalanche, and are now moving on.
Minnesota right winger Nino Niederreiter scored 5:02 of overtime and
the Wild rallied late and beat the Avalanche 5-4 in Game 7 on
It was Niederreiter's second goal of the game, and it came on a
2-on-1 break right after the Avalanche had a chance at the other
"It happened so fast, I felt the (defenseman) gave me the shot early
and then I had the feeling I had to take it and see what happens,"
Niederreiter said. "It went in over his shoulder. I'm very happy
"It was an unbelievable feeling. As a little kid, it's exactly the
moment you dream."
It was the fourth overtime game of the series and the first win for
the road team.
Center Mikko Koivu and left winger Dany Heatley also scored
regulation goals for the Wild, who move on to face the Chicago
Blackhawks in the conference semifinals starting Friday night in
Niederreiter also had an assist.
"He raised the bar," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Niederreiter. "He
got himself in trouble now because this is what we expect."
The Avalanche went from 29th in the NHL a year ago to finish second
overall in the Western Conference and won their ninth division title
since moving to Denver 19 years ago.
"We made huge strides, coming from second-to-last to the top five
and a 50-win season," rookie center Nathan MacKinnon said. "We
wanted to make a run here and we had a chance twice to win the
series, once in Game 6 and obviously tonight. We've got to wait
until September to get things going again, which is going to be a
long summer, especially watching the playoffs. It's going to be
Things looked good for Colorado when defenseman Erik Johnson scored
with 8:44 left to break a 3-all tie, but the Avalanche couldn't hold
the one-goal lead for the fourth time on the night.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon scored with 2:27 left in
regulation to send the game into overtime.
"We knew they weren't going to give up just like we wouldn't give up
if we were tied or down one," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog
said. "It feels like we deserved more than this. But that's the way
Center Paul Stastny, defenseman Nick Holden and left winger Jamie
McGinn also scored in regulation for the Avalanche.
Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves through regulation
and overtime but couldn't keep his team in the lead throughout the
[to top of second column]
"We were up 4-3 and it's tough to give up a goal with a few minutes
left," Varlamov said. "It's frustration."
Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 17 saves before leaving the
game with 8:13 in the third with an apparent injury. Ilya Bryzgalov,
who was pulled midway through Game 2, came on and made one save in
overtime after not facing a shot in regulation.
Bryzgalov's one save came on Stastny with his shoulder when it
looked like the puck was headed to the top corner.
"It nicked his shoulder. It should have gone in," Stastny said.
"It's one I'll be thinking about for a while."
Stastny gave Colorado a 3-2 lead 2:55 into the third with his
NHL-leading fifth playoff goal. The Wild came back again and tied it
on Niederreiter's first goal of the postseason at 6:33 of the third.
The Avalanche scored a power-play goal for the second straight game
after having just one in the first five games, but it wasn't a clean
McGinn was standing in the net when Holden put a backhander past
Kuemper just 2:52 in to make it 1-0.
The Wild quickly recovered and started taking the play to Colorado.
It paid off when Koivu's shot from the boards beat Varlamov to tie
it at 8:04 of the first.
Minnesota had several chances to take the lead but it was Colorado
that got the next one when McGinn tipped in center Joey Hishon's
centering pass to make it 2-1 after the first.
Heatley tied it in the second as a Minnesota power play expired.
NOTES: Avalanche C Joey Hishon, who made his NHL debut in Game 4,
was back in the lineup after being scratched in Game 5 and replaced
by C Matt Duchene in Game 6. Center Brad Malone was scratched for
the first time in the series. ... Minnesota C Mikko Koivu played in
his 23rd playoff game, tying him with Wes Walz for third-most in
franchise history. ... Colorado C Nathan MacKinnon and Wild LW Zach
Parise are tied for the scoring lead in the playoffs with 10 points
apiece. ... Avalanche coach Patrick Roy appeared in 13 Game 7s in
his career as a goaltender. He was 6-7, including losses in his last
two with Colorado.
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.