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Play on: Minnesota Wild stave off elimination with thrilling victory

Zach Parise (11) scored two goals and added two assists in the Minnesota Wild's 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 of their first round Stanley Cup playoff series at the Xcel Energy Center.
Zach Parise (11) scored two goals and added two assists in the Minnesota Wild's 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 of their first round Stanley Cup playoff series at the Xcel Energy Center.Photo by Hannah Foslien

The Minnesota Wild fended off the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 Monday at the Xcel Energy Center to force a decisive Game 7 in their first round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Zach Parise took over the game with two goals - both on deflections at the top of the crease - and assisted on two others. Parise got in position on two different Avalanche defensemen, Nate Guenin on the first and Erik Johnson on the second, to re-direct shots by Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu.

“Tonight (Parise) had a good game,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. “He did a good job of going in front. You try to box out, but sometimes they find a way to get to the net. He deserves credit for it.”

Just like his goals, Parise recorded his two assists in the same fashion. He started a breakout out of the defensive zone and watched a teammate set up the goal. On the first, Jason Pominville fitted a cross-ice pass to Mikael Granlund, who fired a shot between Semyon Varlamov’s legs. On the second, he slid the puck to Erik Haula, who in turn slid the puck Pominville for the open net goal from just inside the red line.

The Wild jumped on the board early and rode the momentum from the crowd to a 2-0 lead through a two-man advantage until a breakaway by Paul Statsny on a breakaway right out of the penalty box cut the lead in half. Ryan O’Reilly was able to get the puck to him at center ice after Suter fanned a one-timer at the blue line.

“Those things happen,” Koivu said. “We realized that. We missed a shot and you can’t really think about that. It’s a play. They get a guy out of the box and (the pass was) right on the tape. There’s really nothing you can do. We left behind us and moved on.”

Kuemper came up big the Wild in the second period turning away 13 of 14 Avalanche shots and keeping the score tied after two periods.

“Both teams had their pushes and you knew it was going to be like that,” Kuemper said. “We showed a lot of courage and resiliency.”

The only goal Parise did not have a hand in was Marco Scandella’s sealing empty-net goal. Scandella picked up a loose puck at the bottom of the circles and flipped a long shot that snuck inside the goal post with 55.7 seconds remaining in the game.

The Wild (3-3) had so many opportunities in the series to score with an open net - Games 1, 4 and 5, but it wasn’t until tonight that they were able to put a dagger in the Avalanche.

“I think we were do for a few empty-netters,” Kuemper said. It was nice to get a few of those.

“(The net) has been sitting there empty for us for long minutes. Finally, we were able to hit it. As a goalie, it’s always good when you’re team gets those.”

Roy guessed during his post game press conference that he has one game seven loss at home. That loss was the final game of his career against the Wild.

Both teams complete their best of seven series Wednesday at the Pepsi Center.

Three Stars

No. 3 - Darcy Kuemper. The Wild goaltender stopped 21 shots.

No. 2 - Mikko Koivu. The Wild forward recorded two assists.

No. 1 - Zach Parise. The Wild forward scored two goals and added two assists.

Boxscore

Colorado…..…1 1 0 - 2

Minnesota……2 0 3 - 5

First Period - 1, Minnesota, Parise 2 (Suter, Koivu), :49 (pp). 2, Minnesota, Granlund 2 (Pominville, Parise), 9:35. 3, Colorado, Statsny 3 (O’Reilly), 16:59 (sh). Penalties - MacKinnon, COL (holding), :26; Heatley, MIN (slashing), 3:19; Landeskog, COL (roughing), 6:45; Coyle, MIN (roughing), 6:45; Koivu, MIN (tripping), 12:36; Statsny, COL (slashing), 14:49; Benoit, COL (delay of game-puck over glass), 15:42.

Second Period - 4, Colorado, Holden 2 (O’Reilly, Duchene), 4:47 (pp). Penalties - Moulson, MIN (slashing), 3:27; Holden, COL (interference), 16:15; Moulson, MIN (high sticking), 16:15; Benoit, COL (embellishment), 17:01; Parise, MIN (tripping), 17:01.

Third Period - 5, Minnesota, Parise 3 (Koivu, Suter), 13:31. 6, Minnesota, Pominville 1 (Haula, Parise), 18:34 (en). 7, Minnesota, Scandella 6 (unassisted), 19:04 (en). Penalties - Stoner, MIN (interference), 5:34; McLeod, COL, misconduct (10-minute), 20:00; Bordeleau, COL, misconduct (10-minute), 20:00; Stoner, MIN, misconduct (10-minute), 20:00; Prosser, MIN, misconduct (10-minute), 20:00.

Shots on goal - Colorado 6-14-3 23. Minnesota 9-6-8 23.

Goalies - Colorado, Varlamov (18-21). Minnesota, Kuemper (21-23). Referees - Paul Devorski, Gord Dwyer. Linesmen - Bryan Pancich, Mark Wheler.