Heart pounding, with my face resting nervously in my hands.
That’s pretty much how I watched the third period of Monday’s game six between the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche. It was nerve-wracking.
Well, with the exception of the jump off the couch and raising my arms after Zach Parise tipped in the game-winning goal in what turned out to be a 5-2 victory in an elimination game on home ice for the Wild.
Bring on game seven.
Parise, who’s scored at least a point in each playoff game so far, had a four-point night. He scored 49 seconds into the game, setting a Wild playoff record. With 6:29 left in regulation, he tipped a Mikko Koivu shot from the point past goalie Semyon Varlamov (who gave Parise a cross-check to the back earlier in the play).
Perhaps the biggest sigh of relief however, came when Jason Pominville scored… wait for it… an empty-netter. Yes, the Wild finally got an empty-net goal that it had searched for earlier in the series. In fact, just to prove they could do it, they scored two empty-netters. Coach Patrick Roy’s strategy of pulling the goalie early didn’t work out for him this time.
Tonight, the teams head back to Denver for a game seven to determine who will face the already-waiting, defending-Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Divisional Finals.
Minnesota has been here before. It came back from a 3-1 series deficit in 2003 against the Avs, winning game seven in overtime. In Denver. Against Patrick Roy (Don’t forget that game-winning goal against him that Andrew Brunette scored.). Then the Wild beat Vancouver in the next series in game seven, after another 3-1 deficit.
Game sevens are always exciting, no matter what the path was is to reach them. It doesn’t matter if you won the first three games of the series. It doesn’t matter if you think the series should already be over because of an unlucky bounce.
Winning one more game is all that matters.
Statistics show that the Wild have the tough task of playing on the road. Western Conference teams are 20-4 at home in the playoffs so far. Plus, the home team has won every game in this series.
But as they say, that’s why they play the games. You can’t predict what will happen, and that’s what is so great about sports.
The Wild have some good momentum to carry over from game six, much like it did going into game five (where they nearly came away with a road win). As I keep hearing, they just need to stick to their game. They have dominated a lot of play in this series, which has been great to see. Young Darcy Kuemper has also stepped up in his role in between the pipes.
If they just keep up the intensity, get some good chances and take advantage of shooting the puck on goal, the Wild have a great shot to buck the trend and come away with a win.
Regardless of the outcome, it’s been an entertaining series between the Wild and Avs. It’s only fitting it should end in a decisive game seven.