Minnesota wins Game 7 against Avalanche 5-4
Wild 5, Avalanche 4 (OT): Nino Niederreiter scored his second goal of the contest 5:02 into overtime as visiting Minnesota won Game 7 to advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
After overcoming four one-goal deficits, the Wild breezed through the neutral zone on a 2-on-1 rush and Niederreiter wristed a shot over the glove of Vezina Trophy finalist Semyon Varlamov (30 saves) to end the game.
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon scored from the right faceoff circle with 2:27 remaining in the third period to forge a 4-4 tie. Niederreiter set up a goal to join Dany Heatley (one goal, two assists) and Kyle Brodziak (three assists) with three-point performances while captain Mikko Koivu also tallied for the Wild, who will face reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago in the next round. Minnesota posted a 3-1-1 mark against its Central Division rival.
Paul Stastny netted his NHL-leading fifth goal for his 10th point of the postseason while Jamie McGinn and defensemen Erik Johnson and Nick Holden also scored for the Avalanche, who rebounded from making the first overall pick of the 2013 draft to winning the Central Division.
With the contest tied at 3-3 midway through the third period, Darcy Kuemper denied PA Parenteau on a partial breakaway after he split Minnesota defensemen Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella. Colorado kept the pressure on as Johnson's wrist shot from well above the circles sailed between the pads of Kuemper (four goals, 21 shots), who was replaced by Ilya Bryzgalov (one save) due to injury.
GAME NOTEBOOK: The teams also ventured into overtime during their Game 7 tilt in the 2003 playoffs. Minnesota's Andrew Brunette scored the winning goal against current Colorado coach Patrick Roy, who was playing in his last NHL contest. ... The Avalanche drew first blood during a power play 2:52 into the game in controversial fashion as Holden backhanded a loose puck into the net from the doorstep moments after McGinn made incidental contact with Kuemper. The goal was allowed to stand despite referee Wes McCauley initially waving his arms on the play. While some assumed the reaction was based on goaltender interference, McCauley was making the motion for a potential infraction for high-sticking. ... Minnesota C Mikael Granlund recorded an assist on Heatley's goal to extend his point streak to five games. ... Koivu was participating in his 23rd career postseason contest, tying Wes Walz for third-most in Wild history.