Nino Niederreiter bombs goal past Semyon Varlamov in OT, Wild advance (video/GIFs)
The Minnesota Wild erased four one-goal deficits and ultimately became the only team in the series to win a game on the road, beating the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in overtime in a spectacular Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.
Nino Niederreiter’s bomb that blew past Avs netminder Semyon Varlamov and rattled around the cage 5:02 into overtime proved to be the deciding goal in a series that was high on drama, with four games requiring the extra session to determine the winner.
Jared Spurgeon’s snipe shot over the shoulder of Varlamov with 2:27 remaining in the third period after displaying remarkable patience was the final goal in regulation, tying the score 4-4 and ultimately sending the game to overtime.
But Niederreiter was the hero of Game 7, assisting on Spurgeon’s late-game equalizer and scoring two goals, including the game-winner.
“To score a Game 7 overtime winner, it’s the biggest goal you can score,” Niederreiter said via the Star Tribune. “I’m very happy. I wasn’t quite sure it went in, though.”
The Wild bench erupted as Niederreiter, nicknamed “El Nino” beat Varlamov.
Varlamov arguably was the sole reason the Avalanche were in a Game 7 as the Vezina Trophy candidate was virtually unbeatable for several long stretches in the series.
But the Wild’s resilience and ability to battle back proved to be too much for the Patrick Roy-led Avalanche, a team that had a marvelous turnaround this season while being led by the rookie coach.
Despite the Avalanche’s potent offense, it is the Wild that moves on to the next round with a chance to redeem itself against the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that dispatched the Wild with relative ease last season in the first round, although this year’s edition of the Wild is far more formidable than the team Chicago faced last season.
What a series, though. What say you, Dany Heatley?
(GIFs via the supremely talented @cjzero and @PeteBlackburn)