By Craig Schroepfer
The Minnesota Wild went into Game 5 Saturday night knowing that winning away from Xcel Energy Center would be a tough task, having dropped the previous two games of the series in Denver.
The men wearing the striped shirts didn’t make it any easier for them.
Colorado won the game 4-3 in overtime and now leads the best-of-7 series 3-2. What should have been remembered as an exciting hockey game will be remembered by Wild fans as one where many questionable calls ended up playing a factor in the outcome.
The most egregious error came with just over a minute to play in the third period. Avalanche forward Paul Stastny appeared to enter the offensive zone before the puck did. Offsides was not called and play continued as Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon fed the puck to Stastny who got a quick shot on goal. Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper made the save but the rebound went back to Stastny who passed the puck to Avalanche forward P.A. Parenteau.
Parenteau, who was trailing on the play, took the pass and beat Kuemper glove side to tie the game 3-3 and force overtime. In overtime MacKinnon was the hero again scoring on a wrist shot at 3:27 to win the game for Colorado.
Frustration was evident in the Minnesota locker room after the game with defenseman Ryan Suter being the most vocal about the missed offsides call saying, “It was offsides and they (the linesmen) missed a call and it’s a damn shame.”
Despite the missed call, the Wild weren’t blaming the officials for the loss.
“You can’t really point fingers, it’s part of the game.” forward Kyle Brodziak said. “There are going to be breaks here or there that you are and aren’t going to get. That’s the way hockey goes.”
Head coach Mike Yeo made sure the team put what happened in Game 5 behind them and turn their attention to the next game saying “The way we have been playing the game we are given ourselves a chance every night. I feel pretty darn good that we are going to come with a really strong effort in Game 6 and that has to be our only focus right now.”
As for the officiating in Game 5, yes there were a few calls that left me wondering what game the referees were watching. However, I’m not going to blame the officials for the outcome of the contest. Human element is a big factor in any sporting event. Like players, referees have bad games from time to time. Minnesota had a couple chances in overtime to win the game and were unable to do so. Good teams find a way to overcome any mistakes made by an official and that’s what the Wild need to do.
What’s done is done and there is no point in dwelling on it. The same scenario holds true now as it did before Game 1, Minnesota has to win a game in Denver to win the series. If the Wild take care of business in St. Paul on Monday they’ll get that chance on Wednesday night back at the Pepsi Center.
If Minnesota lets the frustration from Game 5 carry over, only Colorado will be flying back to Denver as they prepare for the next round.