National Hockey League
Preview
Colorado at Minnesota
When: 7:00 PM ET, Monday, April 21, 2014
Where: Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota


The Minnesota Wild are banking on a home-ice advantage to climb back into their Western Conference first-round playoff series, but the venue won't matter if they can't slow the Colorado Avalanche. Minnesota is in must-win territory in Monday's Game 3 of the best-of-seven series after losing a two-goal third-period lead in the opener and watching Colorado's top line put on a show in Game 2. "You can't defend on your heels, and we've been defending on our heels," Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said.

The Avalanche's trio of Game 1 hero Paul Stastny, captain Gabriel Landeskog and rookie Nathan MacKinnon torched Minnesota in Saturday's 4-2 victory, combining for four goals and six assists. History is on the side of Colorado, which is 12-0 in postseason series when winning the first two games since the franchise relocated to Denver in 1995-96. "Can't make a conclusion after only two wins," Avalanche rookie coach Patrick Roy cautioned. "Now all we've earned is a chance to win Game 3."

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, TSN, ALT (Colorado), FSN North (Minnesota)

ABOUT THE AVALANCHE: There was some debate as to whether Colorado should select defenseman Seth Jones or MacKinnon with the top overall pick in last year's draft. No more. MacKinnon matched Stastny by scoring a highlight-reel goal and collecting three assists in Game 2 to give him seven points in the series, tying a record set by Montreal's Odie Cleghorn in 1919 and matched by Boston's Barry Pederson in 1982 for the highest point total by a player in his first two career playoff games. "The skills he's got, the way he skates - I haven't seen anything like it," marveled Landeskog after watching MacKinnon become the first 18-year-old to collect six assists in a postseason series.

ABOUT THE WILD: Trade-deadline acquisition Ilya Bryzgalov was thrust into an unexpected starting role due to injury and responded by going 7-0-3 in his first 10 starts to seize the No. 1 netminder's job entering the playoffs. But after Bryzgalov surrendered eight goals in the first two games, there is a widespread feeling that rookie Darcy Kuemper will be between the pipes for Game 3 after stopping all 14 shots he faced in a relief role Saturday. Kuemper missed the final seven games of the regular season with a concussion but said he is up to the challenge of starting. "I feel really good," Kuemper said. "I feel on top of my game. All the rust, I'd say, is gone, so I think I'm ready to get back in the lineup."

OVERTIME

1. Kuemper has made one career start against the Avalanche, allowing four goals in a 5-4 defeat at Colorado on Jan. 30.

2. Avalanche G Semyon Varlamov, who set a franchise record with 41 victories, has not lost in regulation since a 2-0 defeat versus Boston on March 21.

3. The Wild dropped both home matchups this season against Colorado, losing 3-1 on Nov. 29 and 4-2 on Jan. 14.

PREDICTION: Wild 3, Avalanche 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Colorado 54-22-4-4 W2 28-11-2-2 26-11-2-2 6-1-1-1 48-21-3-3 21-6-2-1
Minnesota 43-28-5-8 L3 26-10-1-4 17-18-4-4 2-3-0-0 41-25-5-8 ---
Last Meeting
Colorado Minnesota
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
4/19/14 MIN 2 COL 4 29 30 1-3 32 25 0-3
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Colorado N. MacKinnon 4
Minnesota M. Koivu 2
Goals Player  
Colorado G. Landeskog 2
Minnesota C. Coyle 1
Assists Player  
Colorado N. MacKinnon 3
Minnesota M. Koivu 2
Saves Player  
Colorado S. Varlamov 30
Minnesota D. Kuemper 14
Season
Total Points Player  
Colorado M. Duchene 74
Minnesota Z. Parise 61
Goals Player  
Colorado G. Landeskog 32
Minnesota J. Pominville 30
Assists Player  
Colorado M. Duchene 51
Minnesota M. Koivu 48
Saves Player  
Colorado S. Varlamov 2004
Minnesota J. Harding 695
Quickchart Matchup
Colorado Off vs  Minnesota Def
3.02 GF
2.46 GA
29.5 Shots
27.8 Shots
51 PP
54 PK
Minnesota Off vs  Colorado Def
2.44 GF
2.64 GA
26.7 Shots
32.7 Shots
46 PP
49 PK