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Granlund's highlight-reel goal wins it for Wild in OT

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund is a man of few words. He let his play do the talking Monday night.

Granlund's highlight-reel goal 5:08 into overtime gave the Wild a 1-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round series at Xcel Energy Center.

Colorado now leads the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 will be played in Minnesota on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET, TSN2, CNBC, RDS2, ALT, FS-N, FS-WI).

Granlund, who gained control of the puck in the left corner, skated behind the net to the right corner, fought off Colorado defenseman Jan Hejda, skated to the front of the net and beat Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov while in mid-air.

It was Granlund's first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"When you win a battle against that team, you need to go to the net," Granlund said. "I just found a hole and tried to get [to the front of the net]. It was pretty much an open net."

Granlund's mad-scramble to the front of the net on the game-winner was his fourth such rush of the night. He finished the game with seven shots on goal, a career-high.

"He has a reputation of being more of a disher," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "Tonight, he had some openings, he had guys beat with his quickness. He beat some guys off the wall and spun away from some guys. Against this team, when you have a step with the way they play D-zone, you have to take it to the net. He had those chances tonight and the one paid off for us."

Until the game-winner, Varlamov stood tall. He turned away the first 45 shots he faced, including 22 in the first period alone. By the end of regulation, Varlamov had 44 saves, including several grade-A chances. Minnesota had already broken the franchise record for shots in a playoff game (40) with nine minutes left in the third period.

"They played really well. They played with more urgency than we did," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "Without a doubt, they were more hungry. They were the better team on the ice. If not for [Varlamov], it could have been … he was the only reason we had a chance to win this game. That's the way he's been all year for us."

Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper was good too, stopping all 22 shots to earn the franchise's first-ever playoff shutout.

"It kind of had that feeling early that one goal was going to make a difference," Kuemper said. "I just tried to stick with it and make the saves I had to. My teammates were playing unbelievable and making it pretty easy on me."

In addition to the loss on the scoreboard, Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie left the game after a knee-to-knee hit from Wild forward Matt Cooke in the second period. Barrie struggled to the bench and down the tunnel to the locker room and did not return.

Roy said Barrie will miss 4-to-6 weeks with an MCL injury.

"I think it's the play of the game," Roy said. "We lost our best offensive defenseman. I think it could have been a five-minute major and he'd be out of the game. I think that would have broken their momentum; we would have been on the power play."

Cooke has a history of supplemental discipline with the NHL, but has stayed out of trouble for the past 38 months.

"I'm not working for the League. I'm sure they will make the right call," Roy said. "We're very confident they will make the right call."

Minnesota nearly won the game several times in regulation, including shots by Charlie Coyle and Matt Moulson that went off the post, with Coyle's coming on a 2-on-1 break in the first period and Moulson's off a deflection in the second.

"I'd like to get a couple more [goals]," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "The way that game is going, the challenge and the part where I give our guys a lot of credit is staying mentally tough enough to stay with it. Obviously, it felt like we were taking it to them pretty good. So to not get frustrated and not drift away from our game, that's something good teams do."

The save of the game may have come with four minutes left in regulation when Wild forward Mikko Koivu skated into the slot with the puck and fired a shot with traffic in front of Varlamov, but Avalanche forward Maxime Talbot slid in front of the puck before it could cross the goal line to keep the game scoreless.

"Kinda crazy," Talbot said. "Hard-fought game. They gave us exactly what we expected. They came out flying there in the first and second period. They were a good team. They were intense tonight."

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