DENVER (AP) — Nino Niederreiter scored his second goal of the game at 5:02 in overtime and Ilya Bryzgalov made a big save filling in for an injured Darcy Kuemper, leading the Minnesota Wild to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 on Wednesday night.
It’s the first playoff series win for the Wild since 2003.
Minnesota trailed 4-3 before Jared Spurgeon scored on a nifty play with 2:27 left in regulation. Spurgeon waited for a clear look at the goal, and then shot it over Semyon Varlamov’s shoulder and off the left post.
Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley had the other goals for the Wild, who will face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the second round.
Nick Holden, Jamie McGinn, Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson scored for the Avalanche.
The Avalanche took a lead on four different occasions, only to have the Wild respond. Niederreiter won it for Minnesota on a 2-on-1 break when the forward sent a shot over Varlamov’s shoulder in the fourth overtime of the series.
Bryzgalov took over in net for Kuemper midway through the third. Bryzgalov started the series but was replaced by Kuemper in Game 2.
The veteran Bryzgalov stopped a shot with his left shoulder early in the overtime, paving the way for Niederreiter’s winner. It was his only save in 13:15 of action.
Patrick Roy’s first season on the bench for the Avalanche ended the same way his Hall of Fame goaltending career did — with a loss to the Wild in Game 7. Roy surrendered the winning overtime goal in 2003.
Johnson gave the Avalanche a 4-3 lead on a wrist shot between the pads of Kuemper with 8:44 remaining.
P.A. Parenteau and Matt Duchene each had two assists. Duchene was playing his second game since suffering a knee injury a month ago.
Stastny took a feed from Parenteau early in the third and lined in a wrist shot off the inside left post.
Nearly four minutes later, Niederreiter made it 3-all when he beat Varlamov with a shot off the left post.
Heatley didn’t dress in the first two games of the series, but he’s been solid since returning to the lineup. He tied it at 2 early in the second moments after a Wild power play expired.
A frenetic first period featured a few goals and a couple of big saves by each goaltender.
Colorado scored on a crazy play just 2:52 into the game, when McGinn fell into Kuemper just as Holden tipped the puck into the net on a power play.
At first, the official signaled no goal, possibly because of goaltender interference. Following a brief discussion, Holden was awarded his third goal of the series after replays showed Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin batted in the goal with his stick.
The Wild tied it on a snap shot by Koivu from the left circle through debris on the ice — a broken stick and a lost helmet — that went over Varlamov’s glove.
McGinn gave the Avs a 2-1 lead when he sent a shot through the legs of Kuemper.
NOTES: Minnesota F Matt Cooke served the fourth of his seven-game suspension for his knee-to-knee hit on Avs D Tyson Barrie. Cooke appeared in the most Game 7s (seven) of any Wild player. … Wild coach Mike Yeo said this is the start of a “budding rivalry” between the two Central Division foes.
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