The Colorado Avalanche had a shot to put the Minnesota Wild in a 3-1 hole on Thursday. They struggled to even get a shot on net. Even with a sputtering offense, it was a bad bounce that doomed the Avs in game four. Losing the contest 2-1, they will now head back to Denver with the series tied 2-2.
Minnesota picked up the winner on a bad bounce in the second period, when a puck deflected up into the air off of Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov (who lost track of it), landing in front of Wild forward Charlie Coyle, who quickly deposited it into the back of the net.
The Avs were able to answer 30 seconds later, when Ryan O’Reilly sent a puck from the half wall, off of a stick and past goaltender Darcy Kuemper . Alas, that was all the offense the Avs could muster. Colorado tied a franchise record for futility, with only 12 shots in the contest (the least ever by the club in a postseason game).
Just as was the case in game three, the Wild badly outshot the Avalanche, finishing the game with 32. In the two games played in Minnesota during this opening round series, the Wild have now outshot the Avs by a combined margin of 78 to 34.
Varlamov was again brilliant for the Avalanche, casting aside all but the fluke goal by Coyle and a rocket from the high slot off of the stick of a wide open Jared Spurgeon that deflected off of the post and in. What’s disconcerting for the Avalanche is the vanishing act of their typically high octane offense.
While it is true that the Avs are currently without the services of Matt Duchene, John Mitchell, Tyson Barrie, Alex Tanguay and Cory Sarich; they still should have plenty of firepower. Minnesota did not give them a chance to showcase it however, as they dictated the pace of play and controlled the puck.
This is a trend the Avalanche hope to reverse when the series returns to Colorado on Saturday for gave five. Playing at the Pepsi Center bodes well for the Avs, as the home team has won every contest in this best of seven series. If that trend continues, the Avalanche will win, as both game five and game seven will be contested in Denver.