The Minnesota Wild began the 2014 NHL Playoffs as one of the least likely Stanley Cup contenders. Against the top team in the Central Division, though, they’ve more than held their own.
Through five games, the Wild trail the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in their first-round series. Monday, Minnesota looks to even things up in front of their home fans.
"This is a great challenge,” said Minnesota coach Mike Yeo. “We get to come home. Our fans are going to bring it, so let's make sure we bring it."
Colorado won the Central Division with a 112 points. Minnesota recorded 98 points in the regular season. The Avalanche won three of the four meetings between the two teams, prior to the postseason.
If the series continues to play out the way it has through five games, the Avalanche and Wild are headed towards a deciding Game Seven. Both teams have held serve at home, with the series moving to Minnesota on Monday. Every game has been played extremely close. All but one was decided by one goal, and three of the five contests have ended in overtime. Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon leads all players with 10 points, while Zach Parise has been a standout for Minnesota, registering a goal and five assists.
The game is set to begin at 9 p.m. ET on CNBC. Viewers can also watch the contest online with a free live stream on NBC Sports Live Extra.
The Avalanche might still be the favorites to win the series, but they’re not expected to close things out in Game Six. The consensus odds at most Las Vegas casinos have the Wild listed as -140 favorites, with Colorado coming in at +120 underdogs. Home-ice advantage is likely the biggest reason why oddsmakers expect the Wild to force a seventh game. Minnesota was very good in front of their fans during the regular season. At home, the Wild recorded nine more wins than they did on the road.
Considering neither team has lost at home, there’s little reason to believe that will change in Game Six. Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper has been strong in net in the playoffs, despite allowing four goals in Game Four. The Wild have found a way to win a few low-scoring games, so another big performance by Kuemper could extend the series by one more game. Minnesota has nearly won four games this series, having relinquished two late leads that turned into losses. The Avalanche’s luck may not continue on Monday.
Minnesota over Colorado, 3-2