The Minnesota Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche 1-0 in overtime Monday night in the friendly confines of the Xcel Energy Center. Mikael Granlund scored the game winner with a spectacular effort at 5:08 of the 1st overtime period. It was quite a goal for Granlund’s first of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That goal came on the 46th shot on goal by the Wild, which set a new franchise record for shots in a game. No, that’s not a typo. The Minnesota Wild really had 46 shots on goal in a game, a Stanley Cup Playoff game at that. In the first period alone they registered 22 shots on goal. The Wild also received spectacular goal tending from Darcy Kuemper who recorded the the third shutout of his young career. Kuemper stopped all 22 Avalanche shots, making several highlight reel saves in the process. All of the good the Wild did was tempered a bit by a knee on knee hit by Matt Cooke on Colorado’s Tyson Barrie. Cooke received a 2 minute kneeing minor on the play and he has been offered an in person hearing at the NHL offices in New York. Based on that I’d say a lengthy suspension is coming for Cooke.
Minnesota Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo liked the home ice atmosphere at the Xcel Energy Center Monday night saying, “It was a fun game. I thought our crowd was into it. No, I shouldn’t say they were into it. It was great! The crowd was rockin’ tonight! I expect a lot of the same for game four. To me, playoff hockey, there’s nothing like it!!” I’ll agree with that statement by Yeo. I was in attendance for this Wild victory and when Granlund scored that goal the announced crowd of 19,221 absolutely erupted. That’s the loudest I’ve heard the Xcel Energy Center in quite some time. A raucous sea of whirling white towels and joyous cheering that lasted for several minutes followed the lone goal of the night.
The Wild and their fans needed this victory to restore their faith that they can beat the Colorado Avalanche in this Stanley Cup Playoff Divisional series. Mikael Granlund had this to say in regards to his game winning, overtime goal, “I just found a hole and tried to get there and put puck to net and this time it went in and it was a big win for us!” On the night Granlund’s stat lines reads; 7 shots on goal, 1 goal, 1 hit, 1 take away, 1 give away, 58% on face offs, and he did it all in 19:40 of ice time. Jason Pominville and Zach Parise had the assists on that beauty of a game winning goal. What Granlund actually did was take the puck from behind the net, avoid a check on the wall near the corner then spin free. He eluded four Colorado players on his way to the net before stretching out and while falling to the ice get a hard shot off into a gaping net. All Varlamov could do is watch as the puck slammed into the back of the net for the Wild win. Granlund and the rest of the Wild players now look to game five on Thursday which has a late, 8:30 pm puck drop and another national TV audience.
The goalies for both teams were spectacular. They combined for 67 saves on 68 shots with Minnesota Wild, super rookie net minder, Darcy Kuemper taking the shutout win in his first Stanley Cup Playoff start. His numbers in the series are a 1.000 save % to go with a 0.0 goals against average. Across the ice Semyon Varlamov made 45 saves on 46 shots which equates to a . 978 save % and a 1.0 goals against average. With the performance he turned in Monday night, I’d expect to see Kuemper in net for the rest of the Minnesota Wild’s Stanley Cup Playoff run.
The Minnesota Wild dominated the Colorado Avalanche from start to finish Monday night. The Wild came racing out of the tunnel to start the game and recorded 22 shots on goal in the first period alone. Yes, the often “shot challenged” Wild squad posted 22 shots in the first period, added another 9 shots in the second, launched 13 more in the third period before accumulating a final pair in OT including the game winner for a new franchise record total of 46 shots on goal. Part of that barrage was 14 shots by Wild defensemen. Ryan Suter (5 SOG) and Jared Spurgeon (3 SOG), led the way for Minnesota D-men. The forwards were lead by Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund with 7 shots each. The Wild special teams also had a good evening even though the power play failed to score on the three chances afforded by Colorado. The penalty kill for Minnesota was perfect on the evening negating all four Colorado man advantage opportunities. There were 15 penalties for a total of 30 minutes called in the game, 8 for 16 minutes on the Wild and 7 for 14 minutes on the Avalanche. The first period saw a parade to the penalty box with 9 penalties whistled followed by five in the second frame and just a single penalty whistled in the third period. No penalties were called in overtime.
The biggest penalty of the evening by far was a kneeing violation called on Minnesota’s Matt Cooke. Tyson Barrie was the victim of Cooke’s knee on knee hit which occurred at the 2:02 mark of the second period. Cooke was headed into his defensive zone right at the blue line near the Minnesota Wild bench when he collided with Barrie’s left knee sending the Avalanche defenseman crashing to the ice. Replays appeared to show Cooke extending his left leg (intentionally?) to make contact with Barries left knee area. Barrie did get up on his own and skated slowly to his bench without putting weight on his left leg. He had to then be assisted down the tunnel by trainers. After the game the Colorado Avalanche announced Barrie had a sprain of the MCL in his left knee and is expected to be out four to six weeks. The injury effectively ends the Avalanche defenseman’s season. It was also announced after the game that Matt Cooke had been summoned to the NHL offices in New York City for an in person disciplinary hearing. The statement issued by the NHL reads in part:
Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety for kneeing Colorado Avalanche Tyson Barrie during Game 3 of the teams’ first round playoff series Monday night.
Cooke was offered the opportunity for an in-person hearing as required by provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement for any suspension that can exceed five games.
At 2:02 of the third period, Cooke extended his knee as Barrie had just passed the puck leaving his own zone. Cooke received a minor penalty for kneeing.
The following grounds are being considered for supplemental discipline: Kneeing. However, the Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction upon review.
Cook’s last suspension came in March of 2011 for an elbow to the head of New York Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh. Cooke received a total of 17 games in the suspension, 10 games in the regular season plus the entire 7 game first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Rangers. Since that time Cooke has been discipline free. That length of time means he will not be considered a repeat offender for the terms of any fine assessed. His past disciplinary/suspension record will be considered though for any suspension levied against him. The hit looked to be unnecessary as Barrie had passed the puck forward and Cooke would have had to turn around to stay with the play as it passed through the neutral zone. We should know later Tuesday what discipline he will receive.
The Minnesota Wild defensemen had a great evening as they limited the Colorado offense in both shots on goal and overall effectiveness. The adjusted pairs of Ryan Suter with Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon with Marco Scandella seemed to work seemlessly. After the victory Suter said, “I thought we did a really good job getting pucks into their end and wearing their D down and that was our goal from the start. So for us to do that and execute the way we wanted to, we got rewarded off of doing that.” The Minnesota defense had 7 of the team’s 10 blocked shots and 10 of the team’s 33 hits.
All in all this was one of the most exciting 0-0 in regulation games I’ve ever seen. They was plenty of end to end action, big hits, great skating, long shots, close shots, deflections, a full house of screamin’ towel wavin’ fans, overtime and one gorgeous goal to end it with the victory going to the Minnesota Wild. Now, it’s time for the players to put this one aside and move on to game #4 coming up on Thursday night. The Wild have a chance to even the series at two games apiece and make this a best of three series.
I’ll be back with a preview of game 4 of this Stanley Cup Playoff Divisional Series Thursday morning. Until then Wild fans, bask in the glory of this great win until the puck drops again. Don’t forget to check out the GonePuckWild.com Facebook page and be sure to follow us on twitter at @FSGonePuckWild, @dakota_case, @GerDevine and @DrainScott. Until next time this is Scott Drain shouting victoriously all around St. Paul, “LET’S GO WILD – BEAT THE AVALANCHE -LET’S GO WILD!”