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Blatant Homerism

Wild’s Mikael Granlund blocks three shots in final minute to preserve win (video)

Mikael Granlund again came through with some late-game heroics for the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, blocking three shots in the frantic final 60 seconds of regulation to preserve a 2-1 lead and give the Wild a series-tying victory in Game 4 against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were swarming the zone 6-on-4, as the team had two extra skaters on the ice due to a power play and an empty net.

Granlund’s three clutch blocks of course follow his miraculous overtime goal on Monday that featured incredible individual effort as he darted across the net and put one past the practically impenetrable Sergei Varlamov while diving and falling to the ice.

The 22-year-old Finn’s solid play on both ends of the ice — not to mention the neutral zone — cannot be underestimated in how it has contributed to the Wild storming back from a 2-0 deficit when the team left Colorado and returned to the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center to even up the series at two games apiece. The series shifts back to the Pepsi Center for Game 5 on Saturday night.

“You try to do all you can for the win,” said Granlund, via the Star Tribune. “Every guy in this locker room would do that. It’s all about desperation.”

Granlund’s teammates praised the forward’s effort after the game, marveling at how he threw his body in front of three blasts off the stick of Erik Johnson in the frenetic final minute of play, one when he had lost possession of his stick.

“You just want to throw him one,” said Suter, who was on the bench. “That was impressive. That spoke to the way he played all game, the way all our guys played all night.”

The Wild put forth a second consecutive dominating effort, shutting down the Avalanche’s dynamic offense to the point it nearly was nonexistent as Minnesota set a franchise playoffs record by allowing only 12 shots while peppering Varlamov with 32 of their own.

But that only tells half the story of how the Wild thoroughly controlled the game in every facet. The Avs of course will get a little home cooking on Saturday as Patrick Roy hopes his young team can somehow turn back the tide and again gain control of this series.