In another must win for the Minnesota Wild tonight, they came out of the gates guns a blazing, physically, and skillfully dominating the Colorado Avalanche in every aspect of the game. Not giving Colorado many scoring chances, and keeping the threat of rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon at a stand still, the record playoff crowd at the Xcel Energy Center would go home loud and proud as the series would be tied up at two games a piece.
As I said already, the Wild came out of the gates on a mission tonight, and would strike first off of a Jared Spurgeon blast from the high slot and the Wild would be up 1-0 early in the first. Also as expected, the Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikael Granlund line was on fire once again tonight as well, and Parise and Granny would both earn themselves apples on this first goal. Minnesota would go into the locker room up 1-0 and out shooting the Avs 14-3 in the period dominated by the home team. If it wasn't for that first Avalanche power play opportunity, they probably would have skated off the ice with just one lousy shot on goal.
The second and third periods were the same story as the first was, Wild domination. With the team playing physical, and strong on the puck, they were seeing a lot of puck possession time in all three zones, which brought them success for much of the season. This is how coach Mike Yeo wanted his team to play all season, and are finding that the method to his madness is granting them their playoff success..
Minnesota would also cash in on their first power play opportunity off of the stick of Charlie Coyle. Jason Pominville would take the initial shot which would deflect off of the glass behind the net and Charlie Coyle would just have to slide it into a wide open net. However, like in almost every other game in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, two goal leads were not safe. Just 30 seconds later, Ryan O'Reilly would put one through Darcy Kuemper's five hole in a shot he would likely want back. This would conclude the scoring for the game, even though Minnesota could have had five or six goals if it wasn't for Varlamov.
Another story line for this series so far has to be Matt Moulson for the Minnesota Wild. The guy can't seem to catch a break or a bounce in the first four games in this series. He has been snake bitten by posts, missed shots, robbery saves, and blocked shots. One can only wonder when Moulson will find the back of the net, and when/if he does, the flood gates will open for him.
Darcy Kuemper has been lights out since coming in relief in game two for Bryzgalov. In just over 150 minutes played in these playoffs, he has surrendered just one goal. However, it is easier to do this when the team around you isn't allowing pucks to get to the net, but none the less, Kuemper is the backbone of this team and will take them far if he keeps playing lights out like this.
Going into Colorado on Saturday night, the series is in the hands of the Minnesota Wild. I believe that if Minnesota is able to sneak out a road victory in game five, the series will be over in game six when the Wild return home. However, if the home team winning trend continues, we will see seven games. I'm excited to see how this series will turn out, and I'm sure both fan bases are too.