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Parise, Wild force Game 7 against Avs

Apr 29, 2014 - 5:53 AM St. Paul, MN ( - Zach Parise tipped the puck past Semyon Varlamov and carried the Minnesota Wild into a Game 7.

Parise's second goal of the game broke a tie with 6:29 remaining in the third period and the Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Monday to even their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Parise had four points and the Wild scored two empty-net goals after Avalanche coach Patrick Roy pulled Varlamov early again -- a strategy that has worked twice in the series.

Game 7 is Wednesday in Denver.

"It was another tough one going into the third period in a game we needed to win," said Parise. "There was a lot on the line for us and I thought for the most part we played a pretty solid game and dictated a lot of the play."

Parise had Avs defenseman Erik Johnson on his back near the crease when he got his stick on Mikko Koivu's shot from the left boards just inside the blue line to tip it past Varlamov for the winner.

The Wild rebounded from Saturday's tough Game 5 loss, when the Avs tied the game after Varlamov came out with 2:22 left in regulation. Nathan MacKinnon's goal 3:27 into overtime gave Colorado a 4-3 win, but there was no such magic on Monday.

"It sucks to lose but we don't have any time to hang our heads," said Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog. "There's no time for us to feel sorry for ourselves. It's Game 7 at home and it doesn't get any better than that."

Varlamov skated off with 2:44 left in this one, but Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella scored into the empty net to seal the win for Minnesota.

Mikael Granlund also had a goal and Darcy Kuemper made 21 saves, only facing three shots in the third period.

Paul Stastny and Nick Holden scored for the Central Division-champion Avs, both off passes from Ryan O'Reilly, and Varlamov stopped 18 shots.

Star center Matt Duchene returned for Colorado after missing a month with a knee injury and had an assist in nearly 19 minutes of ice time.

"It's all or nothing now," said Duchene. "Win or go home and I think it's a great opportunity for a lot of us in here, a great experience."

MacKinnon leads the NHL in points this postseason, but the 18-year-old rookie took a holding penalty 26 seconds into the game that led to Minnesota's first goal.

Ryan Suter skated into a rebound near the right circle and put a shot on net that hit Parise before going in less than a minute into the game, and Granlund gave the Wild a 2-0 lead at 9:35 when he beat Varlamov through the legs.

Stastny scored shortly after coming out of the penalty box, where he was sent on a slashing call after bringing his stick up into Cody McCormick's groin.

O'Reilly blocked a slow Minnesota shot, found his teammate with a crisp pass to center ice and Stastny beat Kuemper stick-side on a break with 3:01 left in the first period. The Avs were shorthanded because Andre Benoit went off 53 seconds after Stastny for firing the puck over the glass from his own end.

Holden tied the score for Colorado at 2-2 on a power-play goal 4:47 into the second period, scoring on a one-timer off O'Reilly's pass across the crease.

Game Notes

Wednesday's winner will face the Chicago Blackhawks in the semifinals. The Blackhawks knocked off the St. Louis Blues in a brutal series that went six games ... Koivu and Suter each had two assists.