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Wild go for series-tying win vs. Avalanche

by Dan Myers


(Colorado leads best-of-7 series, 2-1)


Big story: The Minnesota Wild will try to even their Western Conference First Round series with the Colorado Avalanche by capitalizing on the momentum from their 1-0 overtime victory in Game 3 on Monday, following back-to-back losses in Denver.

"We know it's a swing game, for sure," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We would love the opportunity to go back to Colorado with some momentum, we'd love the opportunity to go back to Colorado and hopefully they're feeling a bit of pressure. I think that game is going to be an important one."

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado lost defenseman Tyson Barrie to a knee-on-knee hit by Minnesota forward Matt Cooke in Game 3, but coach Patrick Roy said the incident will not be used as a rallying point. And with the series one Wild victory from becoming a best-of-3, now is not the time for retribution or payback.

"The key for us is just to make sure we're focused on playing a solid game [Thursday]," Roy said. "We've been focusing on things that we can do and adjustments that have to be made and how we want to play, not looking for revenge or rallying."

Colorado spent a good chunk of its Wednesday practice tweaking a power play that's 1-for-11 through three games. With Barrie out, forward PA Parenteau will slide to the point and try to get more shots to the net.

"That's where we had a chance to win [Game 3]," Parenteau said. "They played really good 5-on-5 and we had a few opportunities to get on the power play and score goals. I think that's where we lost the game."

Wild: With Cooke suspended seven games by the NHL on Wednesday for his hit on Barrie, Minnesota has made adjustments of its own. The Wild moved forward Nino Niederreiter into Cooke's left wing spot on the third line, a group expected to shadow Colorado's top scoring trio.

"Adding a guy who can be strong on the puck, who's responsible defensively and can play a strong two-way game and that was important to us," Yeo said. "We have confidence in those guys so we're not going to try to hide anybody out here. If we feel it's not working, I'm comfortable with any line. I'm comfortable with any of our centermen."

Moving Niederreiter up to the third line means Minnesota will reinsert Kyle Brodziak as the fourth-line center. He was a healthy scratch for the first time in his Wild career in Game 3.

"[We want] the same things that we always want from him. Obviously penalty-killing will be important and sort of a defensive-minded presence on the ice but a guy who's going to be play the game hard both ends of the ice and a guy who's going to be strong on the puck," Yeo said. "That's really not a big change for him, and I'm confident he'll come in and play well."

Who's hot: After struggling in Game 1, Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov has responded with two strong ones, including 45 saves in a 1-0 overtime loss Monday. … Wild forward Mikael Granlund played one of his most complete games of the season in Game 3, helping to slow an explosive offense that scored nine goals in the first two games and produced several grade-A scoring chances, including the game-winning goal.

Injury report: Barrie (knee) and Cory Sarich (back), forwards Matt Duchene (knee), John Mitchell (concussion) and Alex Tanguay (hip) are out for the Avalanche. … The Wild are without forward Jason Zucker (quad), defenseman Keith Ballard (groin) and goaltenders Josh Harding (illness) and Niklas Backstrom (abdominal).

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