Tag: Ilya Bryzgalov

Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild - Game Three

Avalanche’s Varlamov stops 45 shots, but Wild win in OT


As was often the case in regular season, the Colorado Avalanche were peppered with shots tonight, but kept in the contest by Semyon Varlamov. However, the Avalanche’s previously overwhelming core forwards went cold in Minnesota and the Wild were consequently able to earn a 1-0 victory in overtime.

Minnesota set a franchise record with 46 shots on goal, per the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo, including 22 in the first period alone. Their efforts finally paid off 5:08 minutes into overtime when Mikael Granlund beat Varlamov.

Although he didn’t get nearly as much work, Darcy Kuemper still deserves a lot of credit for stopping 22 shots en route to his first career postseason shutout. He replaced Ilya Bryzgalov, who started in the first two games.

The Avalanche still have a 2-1 series lead, but they might have lost more than the game. Defenseman Tyson Barrie was hurt as a result of a knee-on-knee hit from Wild forward Matt Cooke. Colorado defenseman Andre Benoit and forward Patrick Bordeleau also briefly left the contest as a result of separate incidents, but those two were able to return.

Cooke might be suspended and Barrie’s status is also unknown ahead of Game 4 on Thursday.

Wild hoping last change can help turn the tide versus Avs

Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny

In the first two games of Colorado’s opening-round series versus the Wild — both Avalanche victories — Paul Stastny, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog combined for seven goals.

The rest of the Avs had two.

Tonight in Minnesota, the Wild will be hoping that having the last change in Game 3 can help shut down Colorado’s trio of red-hot forwards and turn the tide in the series.

From the StarTribune:

That likely will mean top defenseman Ryan Suter and the third line, which should consist of at least veteran Matt Cooke and speedy rookie Erik Haula.

“Obviously I want that matchup for me and for my line and for our team,” said Cooke, who will play his 100th playoff game. “It’s tough when you’re on the road. We’re going to get the last change, and if that’s the way that Coach wants to go, then I’ll be ready.”

Haula is the Wild’s fastest forward, so it would make sense to assign him the task of shadowing MacKinnon, one of the fastest NHLers already at the age of 18. MacKinnon has seven points in the first two games.

As much as the Avs have impressed with their spectacular goals and just-find-a-way-to-win attitude, the Wild have to know they’re not done yet. After all, Darcy Kuemper can’t be any worse than Ilya Bryzgalov between the pipes, and it’s not like Colorado is brimming with playoff-proven veterans who have experience putting teams away.

Remember: of the eight first-round series in last year’s playoffs, two of them saw a team win the first two games, only to lose the series.

Wild changes: Kuemper starts, Brodziak sits, Heatley draws in

Minnesota Wild v Vancouver Canucks

Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo is shaking things up for tonight’s crucial Game 3 against Colorado.

Down 2-0 to the Avs, the Wild will make a goalie change as Darcy Kuemper will replace Ilya Bryzgalov after the Russian ‘tender started the first two games in Denver. Kuemper, who missed the last three weeks due to a concussion, returned to action on Saturday when he replaced Bryzgalov and played well, stopping all 14 shots faced in an eventual 4-2 loss.

Tonight will mark Kuemper’s first-ever playoff start, though he did make two previous appearances during last year’s opening-round loss to Chicago.

In other big lineup news, Kyle Brodziak will miss just his second game of the season, sitting as a healthy scratch after two shaky outings to start the series. A lineup fixture throughout the season — he was one of just five Wild skaters to play more than 80 games — Brodziak scored a goal in Game 1 and played nearly 20 minutes, but also finished minus-3 on the night. In Game 2, his ice time was cut to a mere 10:51.

“Down 2-0 in the series, you’re going to make some changes,” Yeo explained.

Brodziak’s demotion paves the way for the return of Dany Heatley, who has yet to play this series. The veteran winger had another down campaign, scoring just 12 goals and 28 points in 76 games, but sounded excited about the opportunity to participate in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 (Heatley was injured for last year’s series against the Blackhawks.)

“You always want to be in there,” Heatley said, per the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “It’s a big game, so I’m excited to get going.”

In another lineup move, veteran Stephane Vellieux will also sit on Monday after playing just six minutes in Saturday’s loss. He’ll be replaced by the more offensive-minded Justin Fontaine, who had 13 goals in 66 games this year for the Wild.

PHT Morning Skate: Blues, Avs, Ducks look to go up 3-0

Matt Calvert

Four series head into Game 3 tonight and three of those see teams looking to take a 3-0 series lead.

The St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, and Anaheim Ducks all hit the road looking to put a stranglehold on their respective series but with the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars playing at home, they’ll have the opportunity to get back into the thick of things with wins of their own.

The night gets started in Columbus where the Blue Jackets host the Pittsburgh Penguins after earning a 4-3 double-overtime win in Game 2 to even up that series. Expect a raucous crowd at Nationwide Arena where there hasn’t been a playoff game played there in five years.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $350. Starts Monday at 7pm ETHere’s the FanDuel link.

Game 3: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins [series tied 1-1] (7:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Blue Jackets’ Game 2 victory helped make this series look a bit more accurate in the standings when you consider how evenly played it’s been. Columbus has hung tough with the Penguins through both games and have made life miserable for Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Brandon Dubinsky’s work to pester them has paid off and Columbus’ role players have stayed strong.

Now the question is how the Penguins will respond to playing on the road after a tough loss. The playoffs can be about facing adversity and the Jackets are giving the Pens a fair amount of that. With Matt Calvert and Jack Johnson providing the offense, if nothing else, this series is providing a spotlight for both teams’ supporting casts.

Game 3: Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche [Colorado leads series 2-0] (7:00 p.m. ET — NHL Network)

The Wild have their hands full in dealing with the Avalanche. After blowing a two-goal lead in Game 1, the Wild were thoroughly outplayed in Game 2 and they had no answers for how to contain the Avs’ top line. That has to change with the series now in St. Paul and it’s time for the Wild’s top line to get a piece of their own action.

While Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise have two assists through two games, they’re getting blown away by Paul Stastny and Nathan MacKinnon who have seven points a piece. The Wild could also stand to see Ilya Bryzgalov play a lot better in goal as he has a .822 save percentage through two games.

Game 3: Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues [St. Louis leads series 2-0] (8:30 p.m. ET — CNBC)

The defending champs haven’t had to face this sort of adversity in the postseason in a while. In both games the Blues have tied the game with a late third period goal and gone on to win in overtime. The Blackhawks are close with the Blues, but St. Louis is finding ways to claw out victories.

Chicago will have to make do without Brent Seabrook for the next three games because of his hit on David Backes. Meanwhile, Backes’ status is still unknown for Game 3. The Blues have gotten support on all their lines as Alex Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Porter, and Adam Cracknell have played key roles in scoring. Going without Backes will hurt, but for how they’ve played as a team, it’s (large) bump in the road.

The Blackhawks have to find better ways to resist the Blues onslaught when they get rolling. We’ve seen the ‘Hawks look like the usual band of world beaters at times, but the Blues ability to push back has been stronger. That has to change in Chicago if the ‘Hawks are going to get back in this series.

Game 3: Dallas Stars vs. Anaheim Ducks [Anaheim leads series 2-0] (9:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

If there’s something the Stars can take pride in after dropping the first two games against the Ducks, it’s that they’ve gotten progressively better as the series has progressed. The timing of that could work great now that the series moves to Dallas. The Stars have lost two one-goal games and while Anaheim looked dominant in Game 1, the Stars made things a lot more interesting in Game 2.

It’s been a while since the Stars have hosted a playoff game (six years) and the fans there will be ready to go crazy to see Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin try to put one over on the Ducks.

The Stars will have to find ways to wrangle the Ducks’ top line, however, as they  have run rampant over Dallas through two games. Ryan Getzlaf leads the way with two goals and two assists and Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry each have a goal and an assist. If Dallas can’t find a way to slow them down, they could be in for more disappointment.

MacKinnon, Avs shine against Wild, take 2-0 series lead

Minnesota Wild v Colorado Avalanche - Game Two

Few expected Nathan MacKinnon to match the three assists he generated in helping the Colorado Avalanche win Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild. He didn’t in Game 2; instead, he surpassed that output, generating a beautiful goal and three assists for a four-point masterpiece that is prompting onlookers to throw the words “Hall of Fame” around.

The prodigious 18-year-old may or may not be matching the special things Sidney Crosby did at that same age, but the Avalanche probably don’t care with a 2-0 series lead against the Wild thanks to a 4-2 win. It’s also easy to overlook slightly less sexy storylines; Paul Stastny is having a magical run of his own, as he followed up his Game 1 heroics with a one-goal, three-assist night of his own.

The Wild must be merely happy to move the series back to Minnesota. They might have questions in net after the Avalanche chased Ilya Bryzgalov, but either way, they need to find a way to slow down this Colorado attack.

(Perhaps having the last change and a refuge from the high elevation may do the trick?)

The luckiest group in Game 2 wasn’t the Avalanche, it was the officials. P.A. Parenteau can attest, as he was the centerpiece of two controversial moments in the wild third period. Despite being clearly cut by an errant stick, officials didn’t call a penalty, let alone a double-minor. If that wasn’t enough, some argue that officials botched an offside call that erased a Parenteau empty-netter.

With a Wild goal moments later, what could have been a 4-1 lead was instead a suddenly nervous 3-2 situation. Those with whistles had to be a little relieved that the Wild’s comeback bid fell short, then.

Either way, the Avalanche and their young scorers are riding quite the high right now. It’s up to Minnesota to make a series out of this one starting with Game 3 on Monday.