Granlund's sick OT goal gives Wild win, Cooke faces suspension for hit on Avalanche's Barrie

Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund (centre) celebrates with his teammates after his...

Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund (centre) celebrates with his teammates after his game-winning overtime goal against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., April 21, 2014. (BRACE HEMMELGARN/USA Today)

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:49 AM ET

ST. PAUL, MINN. - It was either come home to die or come home to fight.

The Minnesota Wild left little doubt as to which path they’d be taking Monday night at the Xcel Energy Center.

In a desperate and furious Game 3 effort, the Wild threw everything they had at Colorado, legal and otherwise, pulling themselves back from the brink of elimination with 1-0 overtime victory.

They swarmed Colorado from the opening bell until Mikael Granlund won it 5:08 into the extra period, some 46 shots later.

“I was able to get to the net, found and found a hole,” said Granlund, who stepped out of the corner, danced through the Colorado zone and scored on a highlight-reel deke. “It was a really big one. It’s 2-1 now, we need to enjoy this a little bit and start focusing for the next one. This was a big step for us.”

A step in the other direction would have been fatal. Seems a new venue, a new goalie and a new lineup brought them new life.

Instead of trailing 3-0, they’re only down 2-1. The series is back on.

“We felt like we let Game 1 slip away,” Zach Parise said of giving up the game-tying goal with 13 seconds left. “I wouldn’t say we’re in control, we’re still down 2-1, but 2-1 is a lot better than 3-0 and we feel good about how we played tonight.”

Why wouldn’t they? The cops didn’t out-shoot Bonnie and Clyde any worse than Minnesota peppered Semyon Varlamov.

“They played really well,” said Avs coach Patrick Roy, whose club managed just 22 shots of its own. “They played with more urgency than we did. Without a doubt they were more hungry, but let’s not forget one thing, we have 11 guys who are in their first playoff run.

“It was their first on the road. Now they know what it is to play on the road. Its’ a learning process for us. Now we need to regoup and be ready for Game 4, that’s all.”

Things took a nasty turn in the second period when Matt Cooke stuck a knee out on Colorado defenceman Tyson Barrie, knocking him out of the game and the series.

“The knee on Tyson Barrie is without a doubt the play of the game,” said Roy, adding it’s a MCL injury, four to six weeks. “We lost our best offensive defenceman and it could have been a five-minute major and out of the game, plus that would have broken their momentum.”

Cooke, who has an arm’s length worth of suspensions on his record, got two minutes for kneeing. He has been offered an in-person hearing with the NHL, meaning he will likely be suspended five or more games.

“It’s Matt Cooke and it’s deliberate knee and he takes down one of our best players,” Avs forward Paul Stastny told the Denver Post. “If it’s another player who doesn’t have a record like him it’s different. But someone like him, everyone knows what’s going on.”

The Wild launched a major offensive in the first period, but all they had to show for it was 22-8 on the shot clock and 0-0 on the scoreboard.

Varlamov was a lifesaver in the Avs net, turning aside more point-blank chances than most goalies see in a week.

“Their goalie was unbelievable,” Parise said. “We threw everything at him, we attacked the net, we got point shots and he was great. Luckily we were able to get that one we needed.”

That was the scary part for Minnesota. As well as they played, they were still one bad break away from being done.

“I’m a big believer that as long as you’re getting chances sooner or later it’s going to go in,” said Wild captain Mikko Koivu, quick to point out it was a fellow Finn who saved the day. “He was inured the last couple of games of the season and it’s not easy to step into a playoff series. So I’m very, very happy for him. A big goal. He’s a good kid, on and off the ice.”

SHUTOUT A ‘GREAT FEELING’

Darcy Kuemper hadn’t started a game since March 29, hadn’t won one since March 13 and was up against a goalie who looked like he had 4x6 sheet of plexiglass tied to his back.

With his team one loss away from being dead and buried, potentially down 3-0 in their series with the Colorado Avalanche, he needed to be perfect.

So he was. The 23-year-old goaltender delivered a clutch performance when his team needed it most, posting a 22-save shutout and a 1-0 overtime victory.

“This was a huge game for us, we really needed this one,” Kuemper said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Thrust into the breach when Ilya Bryzgalov stumbled, Kuemper knew he wasn’t going to get a lot of breathing room in his first start of the playoffs. Not with Semyon Varlamov playing out of this world at the other end.

“I kind of had the feeling that one goal was probably going to make the difference,” he said. “I was just trying to stay sharp, but the way the team played in front of me made it pretty easy.”

When the winner came, he could finally exhale.

“What a play,” said Kuemper. “Unbelievable goal. It’s nice when a pretty one like that wins it.”


Photos