ST. PAUL, MINN. - If it is possible to destroy a team 1-0 and 2-1, the Minnesota Wild just did it to the shell-shocked Colorado Avalanche.
After dropping the first two games of this series in Denver, the Wild came home and laid such lopsided beatings on Colorado that you have to wonder if the Avs will ever be the same again.
Pay no attention to the scoreboards, this was stealing-their-lunch-money, holding-their-heads-in-the-toilet kind of stuff.
The Wild outshot the Avs 78-34 in the two wins (46-22 in Game 3 and 32-12 Thursday night) to tie the series 2-2. But nobody who watched the last two games thinks these teams are close to even right now.
"The playoffs are all about momentum," said Wild defenceman Ryan Suter, answering yet another question about what got into the Wild.
"For us to come home and play well and get the results we needed, it definitely gives us momentum. Overall, I thought we've played well. We've put the pressure on them and made them defend."
For the entire game.
The Avs didn't get their 10th shot until the 59th minute Thursday.
"We did what we wanted to do," said Minnesota's Zach Parise. "After two pretty disappointing games out there, you want to come back and protect your own home ice."
Once again, Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov kept the game from getting out of hand. And by out of hand we mean 10-1.
"Our goaltender was very solid," said Avs coach Patrick Roy, choosing to accentuate the few positives in Game 4. "That brings a lot of hope to me, thinking offensively it's going to come. But I think our guys know they have to be better offensively, there's no doubt about it."
Ya think? The Avs had three shots in the first, four shots in the second and five in the third, most of them coming during a 6-on-4 (goalie pulled on the powerplay) final two minutes.
"I think we know that we need to play good defence against them, and it's not easy with all the skill they have," said Wild captain Mikko Koivo. "This is a good sign, but it's just one game. We have to make sure we're ready to go for Game 5. It's going to be a little different going back on the road -- we're doing a lot of good things right now."
The Wild looked to be in serious trouble after two games, but the way they've dominated the last two, you have to figure Colorado is the team on the ropes right now. Their problems in Games 3 and 4 looked a lot more significant than anything that can simply be cured by home-ice advantage.
"I think it's more just about learning what works for us and how we have to play against these guys," Parise said. "Playoffs are about making tweaks here and there, making adjustments. We just gave them too much room in Colorado, and I think we really cleaned that part of the game up here.
"You have to make them work for their goals -- we didn't do that in Colorado and now we are."
The Avs scored once in the last six periods and some overtime, so they definitely need to get their offence back in gear. But you need the puck to score and they couldn't get close to it Thursday.
The Wild rang up the shot clock like a pinball machine -- 7-0 through four minutes, 11-3 through 14, 19-4 through 30, 25-7 through 40, 29-8 through 50.
If it wasn't for Varlamov, this one gets ugly. He allowed just one goal in the first -- Jared Spurgeon from the ladies tees at 3:47 -- and a fluke in the second (stanchion bounce that Charlie Coyle tapped in).
Ryan O'Reilly scored the only goal on Darcy Kuemper.
"When you have the type of performance we had from our goaltender, there's no reason to not believe in ourselves," Roy said. "But offensively we're going to need more from our forwards."