Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Hits: Game Three at Minnesota Wild (Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One)

Final Score: Colorado Avalanche – 0 Minnesota Wild – 1 (OT)

*The Minnesota Wild were the better team from start to finish. They outplayed the Avalanche from the opening face off to the game-winning goal in overtime. The only reason this game wasn’t 5-0 in favor of Minnesota was because of Semyon Varlamov.

*Mikael Grandlund’s game-winning goal was a thing of beauty. He fought off Jan Hejda along the wall, then fought off a hook, went around the pile in front of the net, and slid the puck into what was essentially an open net as Varlamov lost sight of things in the pile. Hejda and Cliche both did a poor job in coverage, but Grandlund’s effort was outstanding.

*With the last change at home, Mike Yeo decided to use his third line against the Nathan MacKinnon-Paul Stastny-Gabriel Landeskog line and it worked. They denied the top line space and gave them nothing in transition.

*They also played dirty. Matt Cooke took out Tyson Barrie with a blatant knee-on-knee and only got a two-minute penalty. He should’ve been ejected from the game and hopefully he’ll be suspended for the remainder of this series. Barrie didn’t return in the game and has been ruled out for the next 4-6 weeks.

*Nino Niederreiter wasn’t much better. He laid a good hit on Andre Benoit, but then slew foot him down to the ice, causing the back of Benoit’s head to hit the ice. Moments later, he slashed Patrick Bordeleau on the hand. Luckily Benoit and Bordeleau were able to return.

*As good as Minnesota played, the win will be somewhat overshadowed by their goon tactics and the crowd booing injured Avalanche players as they got up.

*The Avs had their chances, relatively speaking. Minnesota took a lot of bad penalties but the Avalanche power play, which has been dreadful this series, went 0/4.

*The refs missed a big penalty at the end of the game though. With 1:30 left and the Avs getting their first sustained pressure of what felt like the whole game, the Minnesota player clearly shot the puck from the defensive zone over the glass. The refs got together and ruled that it was tipped out by an Avalanche player, even though it wasn’t and replay confirmed it wasn’t. It’s a dumb rule, but it’s still a rule, and the refs blew it.

*Darcy Kuemper was as good as he needed to be in this one. He made all 22 saves, but I honestly can’t remember one single great scoring chance for the Avs. Every shot seemed to be from far out with little chance of going in. To Kuemper’s credit, he didn’t allow any rebounds.

*The Avalanche were just flat out out-played. Minnesota was in their face from start to finish and the Avs had no answer.

*It’s one game though, and a game Minnesota desperately needed. Now the Avs will have a couple of days off to regroup, figure some things out, and hopefully respond in game four.

*All you hope for is a split on the road. The Avs still have a chance to do just that.

Game Four: at Minnesota on Thursday

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