ST. PAUL, Minn. — Mikael Granlund’s diving goal 5:08 into overtime gave the Minnesota Wild a 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 Monday night to pull within 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 45 of 46 shots, a franchise playoff record for shots on goal by the Wild.
Granlund cut toward the net for a wrist shot, and as he was falling forward took a stab at the puck to finally put one past Varlamov.
Darcy Kuemper made 22 saves, but the Wild goalie in his first career playoff start was just as good as his counterpart.
Game 4 is at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.
After the Avalanche line of Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny and Gabe Landeskog combined for 17 points and seven goals over the first two games, the Wild kept them from doing any damage.
The Wild shuffled their lines, with veteran Dany Heatley’s move off the scratch list the most notable change, and played their style. They simply didn’t get enough guys to the net for long rebounds Varlamov has a tendency to produce.
The arrival of MacKinnon, the first pick in the 2013 draft, and the hiring of Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy as coach were clear factors in Colorado’s rise from second worst in the NHL to third best. But the rapid ascent of Varlamov, who broke Roy’s franchise record by winning 41 games, was right up there, too. Roy believes Varlamov is an MVP candidate as well as a contender for the Vezina Trophy for top goalie.
After wasting a 4-2 lead in Game 1, giving up the tying goal with 13 seconds left to Stastny, as well as the overtime winner, the Wild badly needed to recapture some energy. They did from the opening faceoff, firing up a crowd that’s been waiting 11 years for a playoff series victory.
The Wild finally figured out how to contain the super-fast MacKinnon, forcing the 18-year-old wonder to have to stay in his own zone. They had the Avalanche on their heels for the majority of regulation. Matt Cooke was all over the ice in his 100th career playoff game, colliding with just about every white Colorado jersey.
But Cooke was penalized for a knee-on-knee hit to Tyson Barrie, and the Avalanche defenceman didn’t return from the second-period injury.
Kuemper wasn’t tested much, but was in control every time the puck came his way. After Ilya Bryzgalov gave up eight goals on 45 shots to start the series, he was pulled midway through the second period of Game 2 for Kuemper, who only lost the job because of a concussion three weeks ago. Kuemper stopped all 14 shots after the switch, then picked right up where he left off.
After Zach Parise’s breakaway shot was shoved away by Varlamov, Granlund’s pursuit of the rebound was thwarted by a hooking penalty on P.A. Parenteau with 10:25 left in regulation. But the power play came and went without a scare for the Avalanche.
The apprehension belonged to the Wild when Benoit wound up in the closing seconds for the Avalanche, but the shot was blocked and the extra period arrived.
NOTES: Colorado’s first-line centre Matt Duchene (knee), out since March 29, resumed skating with the team Monday morning. ... Former Minnesota right wing Richard Park was at the game to lead the fans in the traditional “Let’s Play Hockey!” call prior to faceoff. Park scored in overtime against the Avalanche here in Game 6 in 2003, when the Wild won in three straight elimination situations to advance. ... The Avalanche led the NHL this season with a 26-11-4 record on the road.