The Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche hope to advance to the second round of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs with a victory in Wednesday night’s Game Seven matchup at the Pepsi Center.
The winner advances to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference semi-finals.
Neither team has made it past the first-round of the playoffs in quite some time. The Avalanche last made the conference semis in 2008 and Minnesota hasn’t moved beyond the first round since their run to the conference finals in 2003.
The Wild are fresh off a rejuvenating 5-2 victory in Game Six, during which they scored three third-period goals and only allowed three Avalanche shots on goal in the final.
After facing a 2-0 hole early in the series, the Wild have won three of the last four games to force a decisive Game Seven behind stellar play from goaltender Darcy Kuemper and the all-around offensive skills of forward Zach Parise.
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Kuemper took over for 10-year veteran Ilya Bryzgalov after the first two losses, and has allowed 1.53 goals in four games with a .934 save percentage and 3-1 record to keep Minnesota in the series.
Recording a team-high 10 points with three goals and seven assists, Parise has made up for regular-season points leader Jason Pominville’s lack of production. The right wing may have turned a corner in the series after scoring his first goal of these playoffs in Game Six to force the deciding game.
Two of Parise’s goals and two assists also came in Game Six, and the Wild defense gave up only its second power play goal in the series.
The Avalanche were fifth in the NHL with a 19.3 percent power play success rate, but have gone 2-for-22 during the postseason.
Colorado welcomed center Matt Duchene back to the lineup in Game Six after he sat out the previous five games of the series with a knee injury, and registered one assist which could be an excellent sign for the squad’s attack.
Centers Nathan MacKinnon and Paul Stastny have carried the Avalanche with 19 combined points. MacKinnon leads all players in the series with eight assists, and Stastny is tops with four goals.
The Avalanche could also fall back on defensemen Nick Holden and Andre Benoit, who each have a plus-minus of plus-four in the series, second only to MacKinnon. Holden’s also chipped in two goals with an assist, and Beniot has posted one assist.
Start Time: 9:30 p.m. EST
TV Channel: CNBC
Live Stream Info: A live online stream can be viewed at NBC Live Extra
Betting Odds: Colorado -1.5
Over/Under: 5 goals
Prediction: Colorado over Minnesota 3-2