ST. PAUL, Minn. - Zach Parise scored early and late on tipped shots, and the Minnesota Wild tacked on two empty-net goals for a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night.
Parise's game-winner came in at 13:31 in the third period. It created another situation in which the Wild needed to hold on to a win at the end of the game.
"The other team is going to have push, I mean, this is a skilled group, they are going to make some plays," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "There's going to be a point in the game where they come at you and for me, this is kind of the one game, in particular, where we really did a good job of pushing back."
The team also got help from veteran leaders. Parise, Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu each had two assists.
"Guys like that usually find a way in a game like this," said Yeo.
Parise scored just 49 seconds into the game and Mikael Granlund made it 2-0 later in the first period.
A costly turnover by Ryan Suter at the end of a failed 5-on-3 situation led to a game-changing short-handed goal for the Avalanche when Paul Stastny scored for the fourth time in the series.
The second period was probably the most sluggish for the Wild in the entire series. Nick Holden tied up the game at 4:47 in the second, which drained a lot of the energy from the 19,000-plus in attendance.
But the Wild managed to hold on and get to the third period tied. Parise's goal got the crowd back in it and a pair of empty-net goals, one each by Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella, seemed to be fitting after Avalanche coach Patrick Roy again pulled his goalie early, this time with 2:44 left in the period.
The Wild is no doubt enjoying the victory, but now that the win is in the books, they were quickly thinking ahead to Game 7.
"We have to go in there and get excited about this opportunity, and we gotta go and be ready to play our best game of the series," Yeo said. "Obviously, I am very happy that we won this game, but we're not done. We have to have that mentality."
The Avalanche are also confident, with good reason, since the home teams have won each game in this series.
"We fought all year to be in that position if there was a Game 7 to be in our building in front of our fans," said Avalanche coach Patrick Roy. "I think it's going to be exciting."
And Wild players know the Avalanche faithful will be loud and the players will be ready.
"I think we've played well there, but in Game 7 they're gonna come out flying," said Suter about returning to Denver.
Game 7 will be at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday night. Game time has been set at 8:30 p.m. Central Time.
The winner will take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference semifinals.