The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

May 1, 2014

Wild beat Avalanche in overtime

Nino Niederreiter's goal 5:02 into overtime gave Wild a 5-4 win in Game 7 on Wednesday night.

(Continued)

A little instability at goaltender is nothing new to the Wild. They've gone through five goalies this season. Bryzgalov started the series against Colorado in goal, only to be relieved by Kuemper in Game 2.

"If only we had any experience dealing with this," Yeo jokingly said. "We're fortunate we have good depth at that position."

Niederreiter was a rather unlikely star with his first two goals of the series. The right winger had a good Game 6 and simply carried it over.

"I think our heart made the difference tonight," said Niederreiter, whose team captured its first playoff series since 2003.

Minnesota trailed 4-3 before Jared Spurgeon scored on a nifty play with 2:27 left in regulation. Spurgeon waited for a clear look at the goal, and then shot it over Semyon Varlamov's shoulder and off the left post.

Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley had the other goals for the Wild.

Nick Holden, Jamie McGinn, Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson scored for the Avalanche, who returned to the postseason for the first time since 2010 and tied a franchise record with 52 wins in capturing the Central Division.

Not that it's much consolation — not now, anyway.

"The toughest part is to not come back tomorrow and be ready for Chicago," first-year coach Patrick Roy said. "We believe in ourselves and it's hard to see that it's over."

MacKinnon concurred.

"It tarnishes the year a lot," said MacKinnon, who had two goals and eight assists in the series. "We've got to wait until September to get things going again, which is going to be a long summer, especially watching the playoffs. It's going to be tough."

The Avalanche took a lead on four different occasions, only to have the Wild respond. Niederreiter won it for Minnesota on a 2-on-1 break when he sent a shot over Varlamov's shoulder in the fourth overtime of the series.

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