Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Today, he looks back at a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 5 of Round 1 against the Colorado Avalanche:
The Minnesota Wild sure didn’t deserve tonight’s outcome.
Trailing heading into the third period, the Wild came back to take the lead on goals from Zach Parise and Kyle Brodziak. However, with the Avalanche down by a score, Patrick Roy pulled his goalie, Semyon Varlamov, and Colorado tied it late to send the game into overtime, where Nathan MacKinnon scored the winner.
The loss was a stomach punch (or maybe a punch to the back of the head, something that is apparently legal in playoffs, but we’ll get to that). Minnesota was again in position to win on the Avs home ice, only to lose in overtime. The Wild will get a chance to even the series in Game 6 on Monday back in the cozy confines of Xcel Energy Center. Wild fans have been exceptional this series, and I expect a raucous crowd for that game, too.
Matt Moulson has had plenty of scoring chances in the series, but Semyon Varlamov has been a constant pebble in his loafer, annoying the forward by making big save after save. After hitting the post on a redirection in Game 4, Moulson had to have been thinking someone put a voodoo hex on him. No word on whether or not Moulson sacrificed a chicken, but the wing broke the jinx in the second period in his typical fashion, redirecting a point shot from Jared Spurgeon.
If Moulson’s in the Frustrated By Varlamov Club, Zach Parise had to be its president. Tonight, the forward scored his first of the series on an absolute laser of a wrist shot, going where they put the good booze. Parise streaked into the zone and rifled a bullet high past Varlamov’s glove.
It’s tough to keep a goal-scorer off the board for too long, especially if they continue to get chances, as Moulson and Parise have in the series. In hockey, the adage is to not get frustrated as long as you continue to get chances. While that’s nice in theory, Moulson and Parise had to have been getting a little irritated with Varlamov, but he finally cracked the tender tonight.
I wonder how often the Avalanche practices playing six on five because they seem to be awfully good at it. One thing is for certain, Roy isn’t afraid to yank his netminder for an extra attacker when the team is trailing. The former goaltending great’s trigger finger is quicker than Doc Holiday’s, and PA Parenteau was his huckleberry.
In Game 1, Roy pulled Varlamov for an extra attacker with more than three minutes remaining. Tonight, he did it with well over two minutes and change left in regulation. There’s sure to be some controversy surrounding the game, as it appeared that Paul Stastny was offside moments before setting up the winner. Overall, the refs had a tough one tonight, but we'll get to that in a bit.
The first period wasn’t the type of “leave it on the table” opener that we might’ve expected, but you could tell the series has started to take a physical toll on both sides. However, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the score sheet, as the teams combined for 18 hits. Now, if you’re thinking this number might’ve seemed a bit high (the two teams totaled 30 hits in a much more physical Game 4), you’re probably right. Tracking hits is probably one of the toughest stats to judge because there is no steadfast rule. Some clubs count any time a guy is bumped or rubbed out as a hit, while other arenas are stingier in their numbers.
While the first period might not have had the intensity of the previous opening periods, things quickly escalated in the second period, as things got chippy between the two clubs…
Typically we like to leave the refs alone in this space—they’ve got a tough job making judgment calls in a blink of an eye. However, I think we can all agree they had a bit of an off night, especially in the second period. Midway through the second, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog lost his stick, so he did what anyone would do in his situation: tried to grab Mikko Koivu’s out of his hands. Landeskog might have a problem with stealing, this is the second time in the series he tried to lift a Wild player’s stick, Ryan Suter’s in Minnesota. After failing at larceny, Landeskog moved to assault, punching Koivu repeatedly in the back of the head, then jumped on his back like he was a rodeo rider. Somehow, both players were given two minutes for roughing.
A worse uncalled infraction was when Cody McLeod ran Matt Moulson from behind right in front of the Wild’s bench. Charlie Coyle, going for a line change, gave McLeod a shove as he was skating off. Again, somehow, Coyle was given a roughing penalty while McLeod went to the bench to laugh about it with his buddies. That wasn’t the only time Coyle was hosed. In the third the forward had a clear path to the puck with the Avs’ net empty. As Coyle went through the neutral zone, Andre Benoit held onto him like a drowning man holding onto a life preserver—no call. Earlier in the series, Avalanche Head Coach Patrick Roy said that his team was unlucky with the calls. Well, he can take back that statement after tonight.