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Game 5 preview: Wild at Colorado

  • April 26, 2014 - 12:33 AM

wild gameday

8:30 p.m. at Colorado • Pepsi Center • FSN, 100.3-FM

Preview: The Western Conference quarterfinal series is now a best-of-three. The Wild returns to Denver with the series tied at two games apiece after sweeping Games 3 and 4 at home. The Wild outshot the Avalanche 78-34 in St. Paul but only outscored Colorado 3-1 because of Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov’s brilliance. The Avs return home, where they were 26-11-4 during the regular season. Entering Friday’s games, Western Conference home teams were 15-1 in the playoffs. Twelve of 17 all-time playoff meetings between Minnesota and Colorado have been decided by one goal, including 11 of the past 13.

Players to watch: Wild G Darcy Kuemper leads the NHL with a 0.40 goals-against average and .979 save percentage and became the fifth goalie in the NHL expansion era (1967) to allow only one goal in his first two playoff starts. The second was Wild goalie coach Bob Mason (1987). LW Zach Parise has a four-game assist streak (five). RW Charlie Coyle leads the Wild with three goals. LW Matt Moulson has no points in the series. Avalanche forwards Paul Stastny and Nathan MacKinnon are scoreless in two games after combining for 14 points in Games 1 and 2. Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly have combined for five goals.

Numbers: The Wild has outshot Colorado 143-94 in the series, allowing a franchise-record-low 12 shots Thursday in a 2-1 victory. That was the second-fewest shots allowed in a playoff game by an NHL team since Calgary allowed 10 to San Jose in 2008. … The Wild’s penalty kill is a league-best 14-for-15 this series (it has allowed only an empty-net power-play goal) after ranking 27th in the regular season. Colorado’s power play ranked fifth in the regular season.

Injuries: Wild G Josh Harding (multiple sclerosis), G Niklas Backstrom (abdominal surgery), LW Matt Cooke (suspended) and LW Jason Zucker (quadriceps) are out. Avalanche D Tyson Barrie (knee), C Matt Duchene (knee), C John Mitchell (concussion) and LW Alex Tanguay (hip) are out.

MICHAEL RUSSO

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