The Minnesota Wild have done it!! They have defeated the Colorado Avalanche in game 7 of their Stanley Cup Playoff series by a final score of 5-4 in overtime!
Nino Niederreiter scored the game winner 5:02 into the extra session setting off a huge celebration by Wild players as the dejected Avs looked on. Avalanche Head Coach Patrick Roy must have nightmares thinking of the Minnesota Wild after seeing his team lose twice in overtime of game 7. He lived it as a player and now he’s lived it as a coach, OUCH!
The Wild definitely bucked the statistical trends by breaking a streak of 17 Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7′s being won by the team that scored first. The Wild are the 39th team out of 150 total to win when not scoring first and just the 19th team to win on the road in overtime. This team battled hard throughout the game, overcoming one goal deficits four times to send the game into OT and they are the first NHL team EVER to win a game 7 after scoring four game tying goals. Jared Spurgeon had the 4th Wild goal with just 2:27 to play, a snipe of a shot over Semyon Varlamov‘s glove to tie the game for the final time.
The Minnesota Wild have won a Stanley Cup Playoff series for the first time in 11 years and against the same opponent to boot. Next up for your Wild are the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wild had a different group of heroes this game that propelled them to victory starting with Nino Niederreiter and his two goal and one assist performance. Niederreiter scored the Wild’s third goal of the game and then scored the biggest goal of the series. Nino and Kyle Kyle Brodziak skated in on a two-on-one rush with five minutes elapsed in the OT session, then snapped off a wicked wrister that beat Avs goalie Varlamov up high on the glove side for the game winner. After the game Niederreiter said, “That’s when you have to show up, the big stage, I’m very lucky to be able to do it.”
Not only did Niederreiter have a big night, but his line mates did as well. Dany Heatley and Brodziak also had three point games. Heatley scored Minnesota’s lone goal of the second period tying the game at two. He also had a pair of assists on the night. Brodziak had 3 assists and was a plus-3 on the night along with Heatley. It was a monster night for the Minnesota Wild’s third line.
The Minnesota Wild had to contend with an injury to goalie Darcy Kuemper, who had to leave the game 11:47 into the third period. Earlier in the game, Kuemper was run into by Colorado’s Matt Duchene behind the net, causing the Wild netminder to fall awkwardly. As he fell, Kuemper struck his head on defenseman Ryan Suter’s hip. That’s the point at which the injury is thought to have occurred.
With 8:13 remaining in the third Ilya Bryzgalov entered the game. He hadn’t played since being pulled in game two after surrendering four goals. Bryzgalov became the first goalie since the 1987-88 season to win a Stanley Cup Playoff game while making only a single save. Yes, the Wild net minder only face a single shot in the final 8+ minutes of regulation AND 5:02 of overtime. That shows the level the Wild were performing at defensively. In the game, the Avalanche only managed 22 shots, just one of those coming in OT.
The Wild’s Captain, Mikko Koivu, had the other goal on the evening. He scored in the first period to knot the score at one with a snipe of a shot that got the Wild up on the scoreboard. He was the lone member of the Wild’s top two lines to score a goal.
This night, while the Colorado defense shut down the Wild’s top lines, for the most part they couldn’t contain the third and fourth lines. The Wild got three goals from the third line, and one from a defenseman, to lead the Wild to the game 7 victory. That is the kind of scoring depth the Wild have needed to break through and win their first Stanley Cup Playoff series in 11 years.
When Niederreiter’s shot went into the net, and the celebration ensued, the Wild coaching staff hugged and shouted with joy as they realized victory was theirs. The Avalanche looked around to the refs for help, but there was none to be had. The puck went in, the game was over and they had lost. The Colorado Avaanche have now not won a playoff series since 2008 when they beat the Wild.
This was about as exciting, frustrating, and tension filled as a game 7 can get. In the end, your Minnesota Wild prevailed and now face the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in round two. Game one of the series is at the United Center in Chicago on Friday night with puck drop at 8:30 pm Central Time. I’ll be back with a preview of that game and look for extensive GonePuckWild.com coverage as the Minnesota Wild continue their quest for a championship. Until next time this is Scott Drain, hoarsely and tiredly but proudly shouting, “LET’S GO WILD, LET’S GO WILD!!!”