Wild fend off Avalanche to force Game 7

Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund (64) celebrates his goal with forward Zach Parise (11)...

Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund (64) celebrates his goal with forward Zach Parise (11) during the first period against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 1:17 AM ET

ST. PAUL, MINN. - ST PAUL - All the Minnesota Wild wanted when they dropped the puck Monday was to be like Rocky – they just wanted to go the distance.

Take this thing seven games and see what happens, see if they have a puncher’s chance of winning it on the road.

After saving their season with a courageous third-period rally in Game 6 Monday night, they get their wish – one last game, once and for all, with the Colorado Avalanche.

Yo Adrian!

“Going into the third period of a game we needed to win, tied, there was a lot on the line for us,” said Minnesota winger Zach Parise, who had two goals and two assists in the 5-2 victory, including the winner with 6:29 left in regulation.

“You just want to win. And you have to have a group of people who understand what you have to do.”

So they did it, scoring the winner with their lives on the line and then adding a couple of empty netters for good measure.

“We had a good third, we had a good push when we needed to,” said Parise. “We were able to force a Game 7. That’s what we wanted to do when we skated this morning. Now we have to get a win in Denver."

The trend of home teams winning in the series continued for the sixth game, which isn’t good news for a Minnesota team that has to board a plane for one last trip to Colorado.

But it beats not making the trip at all.

“I think Game 7 is going to be a lot like it was tonight,” said Minny goalie Darcy Kuemper, who might have saved the series for his team after a pair of lukewarm starts from Ilya Bryzgalov. “I think we can use tonight to our advantage.

“We already had a game where our backs were against the wall and it was do or die. We just have to carry over the same attitude we had tonight and use this experience come Wednesday.”

The Avalanche know they let one get away, but they are quite confident in their ability to hold serve in Game 7.


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“It has been a good series, back and forth, and we’re going to have to end it on Wednesday now,” said Colorado winger PA Parenteau. “It’s fun to be part of this. We wanted to end it tonight, we didn’t, we just have to turn the page and go.”

“It is what it is,” added Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog. “They worked hard and this building is loud. They played well and deserved this one. Now we’re getting ready for Game 7 at the Pepsi Center.”

The Avalanche were outplayed terribly in Games 3 and 4 here, but head coach Patrick Roy sensed that his group had matured in the four days since, and he was right.

They looked like their Pepsi Center selves in this one, controlling both the play and puck for extended periods, and showing the heart to get up off the canvas after falling behind 2-0 early, tying it on goals from Paul Stastny and Nick Holden.

The Wild were all kinds of resilient, too, steadying themselves after giving up a shorthanded goal to blow the two-goal lead and then scoring the clutch third period goal with their season hanging in the balance.

The result was everything you would expect a potentially series-ending battle to be – fast and furious, back and forth, full of high drama.

And now they get to do it one more time.

“We fought all year to be in this position, that if there was a Game 7 it’s in our building in front of our fans,” said Avs head coach Patrick Roy. “I think it’s exciting. It’s great for our team. It’s going to be a great experience. I’m sure our players are excited about it.

“We’re not happy to lose tonight, but both teams played well and it was a great hockey game that could have gone either way. It went their way tonight.”

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca

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