The Minnesota Wild led by Charlie Coyle, Jared Spurgeon and Mikael Granlund defeated Semyon Varlamov 2-1 on Thursday night in St. Paul. Varlamov is the only Colorado Avalanche player worth mentioning. He was the only one who had any action in the game. To say that Minnesota dominated this game is an understatement. They dominated at both ends of the ice and they were hardly in the defensive zone during this game.
The Wild evened up the series 2-2 and the team now heads back to Colorado. The Wild have the momentum and if they continue to play the way they have in the past two games, the Avalanche will have a tough time winning this series.
Darcy Kuemper didn’t have to be good tonight, in fact he could have taken a siesta and it wouldn’t have mattered. Minnesota started the game off strong and they didn’t look back. Varlamov kept the Avalanche in this game but his teammates could barely attempt an attack in Minnesota’s end of the ice.
Minnesota Rendered Colorado Irrelevant
As mentioned above, the Minnesota Wild dominated the play. They outshot Colorado 32-12 and four of those shots came in the last few minutes. That is absolutely pathetic. I kept on asking myself; where have the Avalanche forwards gone? Did they go on vacation? It was like there was only one Colorado player on the ice and he was between the pipes.
Charlie Coyle deserves a ton of credit. He scored the game winner at 12:55 of the second period. What I’ve really liked about Coyle in the last 20 to 30 games is his hustle up and down the ice. Charlie wins the battles along the boards and creates scoring chances. There was a couple of times when Colorado actually were able to break out of their zone and move down ice with some numbers. Charlie hustled back into the defensive zone to make some big plays.
All the Wild players played well tonight. Charlie’s partners on offense, Zack Parise and Mikko Koivu pressured the Avalanche defense all night long. They had scoring chance after scoring chance. The score could have been 10-0 after two periods.
One of the big game changers tonight was the Minnesota penalty killing. Colorado had a number of power plays and one very big one with a little more than two minutes to go but Minnesota shut down Colorado’s big guns. The penalty kill has been impressive this series only giving up one goal on Colorado’s power play through four games.
One Minnesota player made his presence felt tonight and it was nice to see.
Jared Spurgeon Redeems Himself
Jared Spurgeon opened up the scoring 3:47 seconds into the first frame. I came down hard on Spurgeon after his game one debacle that allowed Colorado to score with 13 seconds left in the game to send game one into overtime.
Spurgeon had a good game on Thursday night and got this team off to the races with his goal. It was nice to see Spurgeon contribute in a big way to the team’s victory. Hopefully this will provide Jared Spurgeon with a confidence boost. When he’s on his game the guy can have an impact on the outcome.
It has to be a great relief for Jared that the fans will be talking about his contributions in game three and not the critical error of game one. The media and fans were still talking about that mistake on Thursday afternoon. Now they will be talking about his goal and his team’s great play in St. Paul.
Mikael Granlund Deserves an Honorable Mention
Actually Mikael Granlund deserves a little more than an honorable mention. In the last two minutes of the game with Colorado on the power play and having pulled the goalie for an extra skater, Mikael blocked four shots (Fox Sports North). On that power play Mikael lost his stick, yet he was still able to block shots and be a dominant force on the ice.
Wild fans are happy that Mikael was able to come back from an upper body injury. He has played a huge role for this club. In game number three, Mikael scored the OT game winner and it was one the most beautiful playoff goals in the past decade (or more).
Tonight Mikael took abuse in the offensive zone as he was mugged and interfered with (no penalties called) by desperate Avalanche players. Mikael shrugged those players off as if they were gnats. He swatted them away and there pathetic shots at the end of the game.
Looking forward to the next game in Colorado, the Wild will have to keep up their tempo at both ends of the ice. Their top players will have to create scoring chances and the team will have to shut down the door on defense. If the Wild continue game three like they’ve played the past two nights they may force the Avalanche into submission.
The Wild have a decent chance now. They are playing great hockey but anything can happen in the playoffs. Momentum swings are common place but now the young Avalanche team will feel the pressure on their home ice.
Anthony Bloch (AKA Sportmentary) – is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Sportmentary Online Sports Talk.
In addition to running his blog, Anthony writes a weekly column for Last Word on Sports and writes about the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.