Preview: Avalanche at Wild
SportsDirect Inc. The Minnesota Wild avoided falling into an enormous hole thanks to Mikael Granlund and now look to even their Western Conference first-round series at two wins apiece when they host Game 4 against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.
The Minnesota Wild avoided falling into an enormous hole thanks to Mikael Granlund and now look to even their Western Conference first-round series at two wins apiece when they host Game 4 against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.
After dropping the first two games of the matchup in the Mile High State, Minnesota was flirting with an 0-3 deficit on Monday as the contest was scoreless through three periods despite the Wild’s 44-20 advantage in shots. Granlund came up with a great individual effort in overtime, scoring a highlight-reel goal at 5:08 to get his team back in the series.
Minnesota will have to proceed without Matt Cooke, who received a seven-game suspension from the league for his knee-to-knee hit on Colorado’s Tyson Barrie. The Avalanche defenseman, who notched two assists over the first three games of the series, is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks. Darcy Kuemper was impressive in his first career postseason start, turning aside all 22 shots he faced after posting his first two NHL shutouts during the regular season.
TV: 8:30 p.m., FSN North, FSN Wisconsin (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE: Colorado is hoping Paul Stastny and rookie Nathan MacKinnon are able to continue their amazing play after being blanked in Game 3. Stastny registered three goals and four assists over the first two games of the series while MacKinnon netted a tally and set up six others. The 18-year-old MacKinnon, who was fourth on the team in scoring during the regular season with 63 points, was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy on Wednesday.
ABOUT THE WILD: Being disciplined is nothing new for Cooke, who has been suspended four other times in his career - three for hits to the head. He somehow avoided punishment for both a hit to the head in 2010 that resulted in a concussion for Boston’s Marc Savard and contributed to his early retirement and cutting Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson’s Achilles tendon with his skate last season. Kyle Brodziak, who was a healthy scratch for Game 3, is expected to replace Cooke in the lineup Thursday. The 29-year-old Brodziak scored his first career playoff goal in the series opener.
1. Should Minnesota be eliminated before Cooke’s seven-game ban is served in completion, the remainder of the suspension will be served at the start of the 2014-15 season.
2. Colorado D Ryan Wilson will replace Barrie in the lineup, according to coach Patrick Roy. C Joey Hishon will make his NHL debut after being recalled from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League on Wednesday.
3. The Wild recalled eight players from Iowa of the AHL - including C Jake Dowell and D Steven Kampfer, who played for champions Chicago in 2009-10 and Boston in 2010-11, respectively, but do not have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.
PREDICTION: Avalanche 3, Wild 1