DENVER – Hours after Zach Parise said it was time for the Wild to break the home-cooking trend in the Western Conference playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche got plenty of it at the Pepsi Center.
After some controversial calls and no-calls in regulation, the Avalanche forced overtime after one of its players appeared to be offside.
Then young star Nathan MacKinnon, held in check during two games in Minnesota, scored 3:27 into overtime to lift Colorado to a 4-3 victory.
The Avs lead the series 3-2. The Wild returns home Monday for Game 6; the home team has won all five games in this series.
Game 7, if necessary, would be back at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday.
In Game 1, Paul Stastny tied the score with 13.4 seconds left before scoring in overtime. In Game 5, the Wild once again couldn’t hit an empty net with Semyon Varlamov on the bench for what seemed like an eternity, and P.A. Parenteau made Minnesota pay with 1:14 left, converting the rebound of a Stastny shot.
Moments after Gabriel Landeskog impeded Charlie Coyle’s ability to get a loose puck with a yawning net in front of him, Stastny set up Parenteau’s first goal of the series. Replays appear to show that Stastny was offside.
“It was offside, and they missed a call,” bristled Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. “We have to go home and take care of business there and then be ready to come in here and win a game.”
Said Parise: “Something about it didn’t feel right. It felt like they had too much of a step on the play.”
With the Wild trailing 2-1 after two periods, Parise — scoreless in the series — tied it up. The veteran left wing had only two shots and was minus-2 entering the game, but Jason Pominville set Parise up after the veteran left wing beat Landeskog up the ice.
Less than two minutes later, Kyle Brodziak — scratched in Game 3 for the first time in his Wild career after tough Games 1 and 2 in Colorado — scored his second goal of the series after a long forecheck by the fourth line in the Colorado end.
Finally, a dead-tired Jan Hejda coughed the puck up to Spurgeon and Brodziak scored moments later.
Dany Heatley earned his second assist on the night after being scratched in Games 1 and 2.
“This is playoff hockey,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “You get highs and you get lows and it’s how you deal with it. We’ve got an opportunity to go home in front of our crowd and win a hockey game to push to Game 7.”
Varlamov had 29 saves for Colorado, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots for the Wild.
After a scoreless first period, things ramped up dramatically in the second period.
The Wild came out of the gate slow but finally awoke after Cody McLeod scored a shorthanded goal. After a penalty for too many men on the ice to Colorado, Pominville gave a puck to Suter with Ryan O’Reilly, then McLeod pressuring.
The result was a turnover, and O’Reilly set up McLeod after he flew past a poorly-backchecking Pominville.
But the Wild answered back 1 minute 13 seconds later after Heatley and Matt Moulson won an end-wall battle. The puck was popped up top to Jared Spurgeon, who took advantage of a stickless Jamie McGinn by firing through traffic. Moulson tipped it for his first goal of the series.
Earlier in the series, Yeo said he felt it was a ploy by the faster Avalanche to draw 4-on-4s so they could get open ice.
That’s how they scored the go-ahead goal. After Stastny got away with a bunch of stickwork at the side wall, Landeskog held Mikko Koivu’s stick. Koivu finally shoved his way out of the grasp, but as he tried to leave the zone, Landeskog jumped on top of him and began punching away with the puck 100 feet away.
Referee Kelly Sutherland sent them both to the penalty boxes with coincidental minors. On the 4-on-4, MacKinnon flew past a fallen Mikael Granlund into the Wild zone and dropped a pass for Andre Benoit, who fired and saw his shot tipped in by fellow defenseman Nick Holden.
Later, the Wild looked to get short shrift again when referee Brad Meier watched McLeod hit Moulson from behind at the Wild bench. Moulson didn’t have the puck. Coyle, who was just battling with McLeod in the Colorado end, jumped to Moulson’s defense and was called for the lone penalty.
After the period ended with Colorado leading 2-1, lots of noise came from an angry Wild GM’s booth.