COLORADO AVALANCHE

MacKinnon delivers incredible performance, Avalanche lead series 2-0

By Drew Spevak
Avalanche/ NHL Insider
ESPNDenver.com

For the second straight game the Minnesota Wild could not find an answer for the dynamic line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Paul Stastny as the trio combined for all three Avalanche goals as Colorado took a 2-0 series lead with a 4-2 win Saturday night.

Landeskog scored two key goals in the second period and MacKinnon scored his first playoff goal while Stastny added three assists.

Semyon Varlamov returned to mid-season form after struggling in Game One. Varlamov looked sharp from the first drop of the puck. He controlled his rebounds and cut off angles while stopping 30 shots.

Minnesota came out flying the first ten minutes and got the first goal for the second straight game, and just like in Game One it was Charlie Coyle that put the Wild in front.

But Colorado continued the trend of a quick responding goal and it was MacKinnon who gained the offensive zone, putting a move on defenseman Jared Spurgeon that made him fall to the ice and the rookie beat Bryzgalov to even the game 1-1.

From the ten minute mark of the first period it was all Avalanche as they tightened up the defense, not allowing the Wild to get quality scoring chances on Varlamov.

Landeskog put the Avalanche in front 2-1 with a wrist shot up high on Bryzgalov. MacKinnon set it up with a drop pass in the high circle.

The Avalanche captain got his second goal of the night with a beautiful tic-tac-toe play with his line mates MacKinnon and Stastny to make it 3-1 at 11:59 of the second period.

The trio who Roy started the game with combined for 10 points with MacKinnon and Stastny each getting four.

Colorado looked like it had the game iced when an empty net goal was waived off with under a minute and a half left after the play was ruled offside. The Wild then won the next face off and Marco Scandella scored to make it 3-2 with 1:19 left in the third stunning the sold out Pepsi Center crowd.

Stastny then finished the game off with an empty net goal for his fourth point with 15 seconds left.

The Avalanche may have made their biggest improvement from the first game on the penalty kill, going 3-for-3.

Game three will be Monday night in St. Paul with the Wild possibly making a change in goal. Darcy Kuemper took over for Bryzgalov in the second and played well enough to possibly get the nod next game. Kuemper made 14 saves.

THREE STARS OF THE GAME

  1. Nathan MacKinnon – 1 goal, 3 assists

  2. Semyon Varlamov – 30 saves, 2 GA

  3. Gabriel Landeskog – 2 goals

Drew Spevak covers the Colorado Avalanche for ESPNDenver.com. Follow him on Twitter @DrewSpevak.

 

 

Cardiac kids do it again in Game One

By Drew Spevak
Avalanche/ NHL Insider
ESPNDenver.com

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

  1. Paul Stastny – 2 goals, 1 assist

  2. Ryan O'Reilly – 1 goal, 1 assist

  3. Nathan MacKinnon – 3 assists

Drew Spevak covers the Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rockies for ESPNDenver.com. Follow him on Twitter @DrewSpevak for all news on the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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