By Drew Spevak
Every time I sit down to write a game recap, it feels like I keep repeating myself. Here we are again, as the Colorado Avalanche made their return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in grand fashion with an unbelievable come from behind victory in Game One over the Minnesota Wild.
Alternate captain Paul Stastny got a game tying goal with 13.4 seconds to play in the third period to send the sold out Pepsi Center crowd into a frenzy, after the team trailed 4-2 coming into the period.
In overtime it was Stastny who delivered again with the game winning goal to put the Avalanche up 1-0 in the best of seven series.
Both goaltenders were shaky but it was Semyon Varlamov who came up with the big saves when it counted. Varlamov gave up four goals in the first two periods but shutout the Wild in the third and OT, with 14 saves in the final two.
Gabriel Landeskog found an opening in the slot and took a great pass from Stastny to put the Avalanche on the board first at 13:14 of the opening period.
The lead was short lived as Charlie Coyle tied the game just 2:06 later. Coyle skated from left to right through the slot and was in perfect position when a shot from Zach Parise carrumed off the boards in front and went right to Coyle.
In the second Jan Hejda took a questionable interference call giving the Wild a man advantage, and they capitalized with Ryan Suter delivering a blast that found it's way through traffic for the goal and a 2-1 Wild lead.
Ryan O'Reilly tied it back up at 2-2 3:07 after the Suter goal with a slapshot from the high slot. Nathan MacKinnon picked up an assist with a pass from the left circle. O'Reilly has a goal and an assist.
The goals continued to come in flurries as Erik Haula put the Wild back in front, skating past Brad Malone at the blue line after a two line pass from Jonas Brodin carried him into the offensive zone. Haula beat Varlamov along the post and put Minnesota back up 3-2.
Kyle Brodziak added to the lead 2:07 later when the Avalanche fell asleep defensively below the goal line leaving him open for the goal.
The Avalanche have excelled all season trailing into the third period and Thursday night was no exception. Jamie McGinn snuck low behind the Wild defense taking a pass from O'Reilly who stole the puck near the top of the left circle and McGinn went low to beat Ilya Bryzgalov cutting the lead to 4-3.
Patrick Roy pulled the goaltender early by most standards with just a little over three minutes left in the third and it nearly cost the Avalanche once as a clearing attempt was headed toward the Avs goal but Erik Johnson was able to hustle back and knock the puck away just inches from the net.
Stastny's goal came from an impossible angle after Johnson's shot deflected towards him below the circle and he buried it for his first of the game.
In overtime Stastny won it when Tyson Barrie skated hard to the net but slipped without the puck taking down two defenders leaving Stastny open to beat Bryzgalov after a pass from MacKinnon behind the net.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME
Paul Stastny – 2 goals, 1 assist
Ryan O'Reilly – 1 goal, 1 assist
Nathan MacKinnon – 3 assists
By Drew Spevak
The Colorado Avalanche hit the ice this morning at Pepsi Center ahead of Game one tonight at 7:30 against the Wild.
Patrick Roy skated with the same lines as he did yesterday so most likely these are the lines that we will see tonight.
Semyon Varlamov will be in goal for the Avalanche with Ilya Bryzgalov for Minnesota.
After practice coach Roy confirmed what we all suspected, John Mitchell (concussion) and Cory Sarich (back) will not play tonight. Jan Hejda is in the lineup in the first defensive pairing.
Still no news on Matt Duchene, but I can report that he still is not skating and in my view making it less likely that he could return in this series, but a lot can change so we'll see.