DENVER — Nino Niederreiter scored his second goal of the game at 5:02 in overtime, and Ilya Bryzgalov made a big save filling in for injured Darcy Kuemper, leading the Minnesota Wild to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 on Wednesday night.
It’s the first playoff series win for the Wild since 2003.
Minnesota trailed 4-3 before Jared Spurgeon scored on a nifty play with 2:27 left in regulation. Spurgeon waited for a clear look at the goal, and then shot it over Semyon Varlamov’s shoulder and off the left post.
Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley had the other goals for the Wild, who will face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the second round.
Nick Holden, Jamie McGinn, Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson scored for the Avalanche.
The Avalanche took a lead on four occasions, only to have the Wild respond. Niederreiter won it for Minnesota on a 2-on-1 break when the forward sent a shot over Varlamov’s shoulder in the fourth overtime of the series.
Bryzgalov took over in net for Kuemper midway through the third. Bryzgalov started the series but was replaced by Kuemper in Game 2.
The veteran Bryzgalov stopped a shot with his left shoulder early in the overtime, paving the way for Niederreiter’s winner. It was his only save in 13:15 of action.
Rangers 2, Flyers 1: In New York, Daniel Carcillo provided the burst of energy New York was counting on in Game 7. The big goal was quite a bonus.
Carcillo gave the Rangers the lead with the first of their two second-period goals, and Henrik Lundqvist did just enough to hold off the Flyers and send New York into the second round.
Carcillo was added to the lineup, after he sat out the previous two games, and the move paid instant dividends. He turned a crisp pass into his second goal of the series at 3:06 of the middle frame.
“When you’re in, you try to do something to stay in, whether it be offensively or bring a lot of energy,” Carcillo said. “That’s just what I was trying to do every time I was in this series.”
Benoit Pouliot stretched the Rangers’ lead to 2-0, and Lundqvist made it stand up with a 26-save effort one night after New York lost 5-2 in Philadelphia.
“No one was jittery. We all knew what to do,” Carcillo said. “On this team, no one was shying away from the big stage.”
Lundqvist watched the third period of Game 6 from the bench, and started his preparation then for Wednesday.
“Coming home last night, I was so disappointed,” said Lundqvist, who improved to 4-1 in Game 7s. “But at the same time, I was mad because we couldn’t come up with a better performance. To play a Game 7 at home and to win, that was the inspiration.
“We played a really strong series. I think we were the better team. We pushed the pace almost every game. We definitely earned this one.”
The Rangers knocked out the Flyers about 24 hours after being pushed to the limit, improving to 6-0 in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden. New York will face another Metropolitan Division rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the next round, starting Friday.
Lundqvist allowed only a third-period goal to Jason Akeson at 4:32. He protected the one-goal lead at 7:25 when he made an awkward save against Flyers captain Claude Giroux.
“Game 7, lose 2-1, it doesn’t get any closer than that,” Giroux said. “We did a good job staying in the battle. We have a lot of character in this room, and for a young team I think it’s great. This is only going to make us stronger.”