The Minnesota Wild will enter Game 5 Saturday night in Denver having completely turned the tables on the Colorado Avalanche. After dropping the first two games of the series at the Pepsi Center, the Wild returned home to dominate the Avs on their way to tying the series at two apiece. Game 5 is such a pivotal game in any seven game series, and Saturday's game will be no different.
After getting thoroughly outplayed by the Wild, the 'Lanche will be coming into Game 5 with a bit of desperation to 1) have a good showing in front of their fans, and 2) recapture some of the lost momentum in the series. Winning Game 5 does not mean that the same team will come out and win Game 6. In fact, when a team leads the series 3-2, the Game 6 record is 191-149 (.562). However, the team that led a series 3-2 will go on to win the series 78.8 percent of the time. There is no doubt that coaches Yeo and Roy know the importance of winning Game 5.
Minnesota wants to continue their dominance by keeping pucks deep in the Avalanche zone and away from their young goaltender, Darcy Kuemper, The defensemen of the Avs have been worn down by the relentless forecheck brought on by the Wild forwards and have only been saved by the outstanding work of Semyon Varlamov. The Wild hold a 2-3 record in Game 5 appearances while being outscored 16-14 in those contests. the only thing propping up the goal differential was because of the 7-2 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals in 2002-03.
The Avalanche have won two Stanley Cups since their move to the Mile High City. If you didn't know that, just ask an Avs fan, they'll make sure and remind you over and over about it. The Avs hold a 16-9 record in Game 5's since the '95-'96 season, outscoring their opponents 78-56 in those games. This Avalanche edition does not have anyone on the team that was a part of those prolific Avalanche teams of the late 90's/early Aught's.
If you remember, the Wild were eliminated from the playoffs last post-season by the Blackhawks in Game 5 in a series that never really seemed out of question for the Hawks. It becomes a matter of if the Wild learned from their mistakes from last year and can steal a victory from the Pop Machine.
The Wild out-worked, out-hustled, and out-shot the second best team in the Western Conference for two straight games and hold all the momentum in to Game 5 with the pressure mounting on the young kids of the Avalanche. Saturday's game should be a fun and intriguing game to watch.