Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild motivated to force Game 7 vs. Avs

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: April 28, 2014 - 12:46 PM

Good afternoon from the X, where I will be hosting a live chat on www.startribune.com/wild at 3 p.m. CT. Please join.

I will also be on KFAN at 5:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. and on Fox Sports North during the pregame show and first intermission.

The Wild must beat Colorado tonight or its season is over. It’s very clear the Wild is loose.

Even coach Mike Yeo jokingly came to the podium after today’s morning skate with a piece of paper. It was an inside joke to the gathered local media.

“Pulled that trick out once,” joked Yeo, a reference to how after March’s home loss to Detroit. After that game, Yeo brought a yellow piece of paper to the podium with a bunch of funny math written on it so he could preemptively demonstrate to the blood-thirsty press that the skidding Wild wasn’t that bad off and this wasn’t like last year’s late slide, that “this is a different team.”

The Wild won the next night in Detroit and then went on a tear after back-to-back losses to Vancouver and St. Louis.

Last year, the Wild won a must-win season finale in Denver in order to continue its season into the playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild wants nothing more than to get this series back to another must-win game in Denver on Wednesday … so it can continue its season in the second round against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Could the stars be aligning for a kinda sorta repeat of last year’s scenario?

We’ll know tonight. For the Wild to give itself that opportunity, it must win Game 6 to force a Game 7.

The Wild cannot expect tonight’s game to feel like Games 3 and 4. I’m not saying the Wild won’t win, but I expect the Wild won’t dominate every iota like it did in two homes games week. Like this entire series, I expect a dogfight and Darcy Kuemper better be sharp.

As usual, low-scoring games benefit the Wild. The Wild has lost 5-4, 4-2 and 4-3 games in Denver and won 1-0 and 2-1 games in Minnesota.

No lineup changes for the Wild tonight. Mikael Granlund will replace Charlie Coyle on the top power play.

Matt Duchene (knee) will meet with Colorado’s team doctor this afternoon, take part in warmups if cleared and returned for the first time since late March if he feels good.

ON tonight’s game, Yeo said, “We’re excited. You’ve got to sit around and wait again ‘til a later (8 p.m.) start here, but these are the games you get up for. Knowing what’s at stake, knowing that our season’s on the line, having a chance to go out and play in front of our crowd with the opportunity to push it to Game 7, as a competitor you have to love those challenges.”

Yeo said, “We’re going to go all-in to this game and throw our best effort out. … I have lots of confidence in this group.”

On the Wild staff, the Wild has Yeo and Rick Wilson, who have coached on Stanley Cup-winning teams. It has Darryl Sydor, who won two Cups as players. It has Darby Hendrickson and Andrew Brunette, who were part of six straight elimination victories in 2003 for the Wild against Colorado and Vancouver.

Yeo says the Wild has a lot of “resources” and he asked those guys the past few days to talk to not just young players, but the veterans about their experiences.

“I purposely asked those guys to take the time to talk to a lot of guys this morning because of that experience,” Yeo said. “Just even a reminder. … We have a lot of people that have reached the end and reached the pinnacle and been at the highs of those moments, but in order to come through in those moments, you’ve had to go through some other parts like we’re facing right now.”

I’m doing a story on the renewed coach’s challenge debate in the NHL going into this offseason. In this series along, the Avs were called offside before an empty-net goal (onside), Jonas Brodin flipped a puck into the crowd (ruled deflection) and the Avs scored a game-tying goal in an OT win despite what should have been an offside call.

“I’ll probably be in favor of it. I’ve got a flag in my pocket right now,” Yeo joked.

If you saw my story in yesterday’s paper, so would Patrick Roy.

Zach Parise on tonight’s game: “We know it’s a lose-you’re-done scenario. We had a good skate this morning. We need to be a lot better tonight [than we were in Game 5], sharper in different areas. … We were loose and excited and ready to play. We’re confident here. We want to extend the series.”

Jason Pominville, the Wild’s regular-season leading goal scorer with 30, has no goals and three assists in the series. Asked if he feels the pressure to score, Pominville said, “Not at all. I don’t want to add any pressure to do anything more. I don’t want to go out of my way to start cheating and looking for offense. You can bring a lot of different things to the team when you’re on the ice aside from scoring. Obviously, you’d like to score. I would like to get on board. But I can’t start cheating and creating something that maybe isn’t there by not sticking to the plan or system.”

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San Francisco 1 Top 2nd Inning
Kansas City 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
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Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
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Arizona
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Cleveland
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Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 56 3rd Qtr 3:48
Orlando 65
Brooklyn 44 3rd Qtr
Boston 58
Washington 50 3rd Qtr
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Memphis 20
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Milwaukee 27
Atlanta 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
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Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 2 1st Prd 5:22
Pittsburgh 1
Washington 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Anaheim
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
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(18) East Carolina
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Virginia Tech
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Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
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(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
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Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
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