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Minnesota Wild even series with Colorado in dominating fashion

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The Minnesota Wild continued their domination of the Colorado Avalanche with a 2-1 victory Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in Game 4 of their first round Stanley Cup playoff series.

Mikael Granlund did what he does best, assist on a goal, but it was three blocked shots in the final minutes that got the crowd on their feet.

“You just try to do all you can,” Granlund said about showing his game is more than setting up goals. “I think every guy in this locker room would do that. For the whole team, it is a matter of desperation.”

Mike Yeo echoed his thoughts.

“This is the attitude of our whole group has,” he said. “Everybody’s committed to playing a certain way. When you go out and do that a different guy has that opportunity. Some guys play in different situations and a guy like that has an opportunity to create a great goal last game. But, being out on the penalty kill in the situation he was at the end of the game and knowing how important that is and knowing what his teammates need from him. That’s what we’ve seen from everybody. That’s why we’ve been successful the last couple games.

The roar came from the largest playoff crowd in team history. Nineteen thousand, three hundred and 96 fans made it the best atmosphere ever at the Xcel Energy Center.

“Obviously, we’ve had some exciting games here in this building since I’ve been here, but I’ve never heard anything like that,” he said. “That was fun.”

Granlund received the second assist after getting a pass to Zach Parise. Parise, in turn, got a pass to Jared Spurgeon in the slot for the one-timer. Varlamov had no chance as the puck whizzed past him just inside the far post three minutes and 47 seconds into the game.

Charlie Coyle scored the game-winning goal at the 12:55 mark of the second period on a bizarre power play goal. Jason Pominville took a shot from the top of the circle that rifled over the net, but it hit a stanchion and caromed back to the front of the net. Coyle was “Johnny on the spot” and knocked the loose puck into the open net behind Semyon Varlamov.

The Avalanche got their only goal on a bad angle shot by Ryan O’Reilly 30 seconds later. It was the Avalanche’s seventh shot on goal during the game. The Wild held the Avalanche without another shot in the period and just five in the third.

The Wild (2-2) beat the Avalanche in every way possible in both Games 3 and 4 to even up the series. After being out-skilled in Game 4, the Avalanche resorted to goon tactics in Game 4, but were unable to shake the Wild.

The Avalanche (2-2) talked about not retaliating for Matt Cooke’s knee-on-knee hit. It looked like just the opposite. Jan Hejda gave Granlund a slew foot in the first period. Then in the second period, Paul Statsny cross checked Granlund in the middle, after knocking him to the ice.

It really unravelled in the third period. Patrick Bordeleau kicked his leg out into Jared Spurgeon’s just inside the blue line. Then with less than three minutes remaining, Erik Johnson and Gabriel Landeskog attacked Erik Haula, for no reason other than he was better.

Referees Tim Peel and Chris Rooney turned the cheek to all of it before handing the Wild a phantom hooking penalty with two minutes and 14 seconds remaining. The Wild never broke and deserved to win.

The Avalanche have looked like a team that did not deserve to be in the playoffs, but it now becomes a best of three with Games 5 and 7 in Denver and Game 6 in St. Paul. Game 5 will take place on Saturday.

Three Stars

No. 3 - Charlie Coyle. The Wild forward scored a goal.

No. 2 - Jared Spurgeon. The Wild defenseman scored a goal.

No. 1 - Mikael Granlund. The Wild forward blocked three shots in the final seconds to preserve the win. He also had an assist.

Boxscore

Colorado…..…0 1 0 - 1

Minnesota……1 1 0 - 2

First Period - 1, Minnesota, Spurgeon 1 (Parise, Granlund), 3:47. Penalties - Brodin, MIN (hooking), 4:18; Guenin, COL (tripping), 11:46.

Second Period - 2, Minnesota, Coyle 3 (Pominville), 12:55 (pp). 3, Colorado, O’Reilly 2 (McGinn). 13:25. Penalties - Suter, MIN (hooking), 4:43; Landeskog, COL (hooking), 12:16; Statsny, COL (cross checking), 16:23.

Third Period - None. Penalties - Stoner, MIN (holding), 1:35; McGinn, COL (tripping), 14:19; Brodin, MIN (hooking), 17:46.

Shots on goal - Colorado 3-4-5 12. Minnesota 14-11-7 32.

Goalies - Colorado, Varlamov (30-32). Minnesota, Kuemper (11-12). Referees - Tim Peel, Chris Rooney. Linesmen - Derek Amell, Darren Gibbs.

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