Updated: 04/21/2014 2:17 PM KSTP.com By: Megan Stewart
Colorado Avalanche center Maxime Talbot (25) and Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke (24) skate in the first period of Game 2.
Photo: Photo: AP/Jack Dempsey
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) and Minnesota Wild left wing Erik Haula (56), from Finland, skate in a spray of ice during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series on Thursday, April 17, 2014, in Denver.
Photo: Photo: AP/Jack Dempsey
Gabriel Landeskog scored twice and Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots, lifting the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night and a 2-0 series lead.
The Wild were unable to contain the quickness of teenager Nathan MacKinnon, who had a goal and three assists. Stastny, the star of Game 1, also had a goal and three assists. His empty-netter sealed the win after Marco Scandella made it a one-goal game with 1:19 remaining.
Charlie Coyle also scored early for the Wild.
Game 3 is Monday in Minnesota.
Landeskog's second goal of the game gave Colorado a 3-1 lead with 8:01 remaining in the second and led the Wild to pull erratic starter Ilya Bryzgalov. Backup Darcy Kuemper stopped all 14 shots he faced, possibly opening up a goaltender controversy.
Varlamov bottled up the Wild most of the night to help Colorado hold serve at home. The Avs are 12-0 in playoff series when capturing the first two contests since relocating to the Mile High City in 1995-96.
The 18-year-old MacKinnon is having quite an NHL postseason debut. The Wild simply couldn't slow down the speedy MacKinnon, the first pick in the draft last summer. He blew past Wild defenders all evening and now has seven points in the series.
In the opening game, Colorado rallied for a 5-4 win when Stastny scored the tying goal with 13.4 seconds remaining and then the OT winner.
This time, no late-game theatrics were necessary. No bold decisions by coach Patrick Roy, either.
Roy's goalie simply played that well and only got stronger as the game went along. So, too, did the chants of "Varly, Varly, Varly," from the capacity crowd.
Varlamov showed the form that led to 41 wins in the regular season, which broke Roy's team record. He allowed a late goal by Scandella, but Stastny ended any drama with his goal in the waning seconds.
Roy kept the line of Landeskog, Stastny and MacKinnon together. No surprise, really, since the trio shined since being paired late in Game 1.
They combined for 10 points on Saturday.
Landeskog scored his first goal of the game on a nifty no-look pass from MacKinnon. He added another when MacKinnon beat a Wild defender, dished it over to Stastny, who made a spin pass to Landeskog. The captain lined it over Bryzgalov's shoulder.
That was the end of Bryzgalov's night as Minnesota coach Mike Yeo sent in Kuemper.
Bryzgalov struggled in both games in Colorado, giving up eight goals on 45 shots.
Coyle put the Wild up on a crazy play early in the first period. Mikko Koivu sent a pass toward the goal that bounced off Varlamov's stick and hit a hard-charging Coyle just before he and defenseman Jan Hejda crashed into the goal, knocking the net off its pegs.
The officials reviewed the play and confirmed Coyle's second goal of the series.
Two minutes later, MacKinnon took a pass at his own blue line, flew past two Wild players at center ice, weaved between two defenders and lined a shot over Bryzgalov's arm.
The Avalanche have adopted the motto "Why not us?" this season, putting the mantra on shirts, ball caps and even flashing it on the scoreboard. The slogan took root when Roy posed that question when he first came on board. It was taken to heart in October after former Avs defenseman Ray Bourque addressed the team at his restaurant in Boston.
"This motto became pretty big and something we started to believe in," Maxime Talbot said. "So, why not us?"
NOTES: Wild F Dany Heatley was a scratch. ... Colorado will likely be without its leading scorer Matt Duchene (knee) for this series, Roy said after the morning skate. ... Roy said F John Mitchell (head) is "not close" to a return. ... The Avs are now 6-0-1 against the Wild this season. ... Avalanche F P.A. Parenteau had a cut under his left eye after being hit by a stick late in the third period, but returned to the ice.
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Period-by-period recaps through the first two periods:
END PERIOD 2: Avalanche 3, Wild 1
Goals: COL- Landeskog; COL - Landeskog
Shots: MIN- 8 (total 19); COL- 10 (total 20)
PP: MIN- 0/0 (total 0/2); COL- 0/2 (total 0/2)
Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon's fifth point of the series came three minutes into the second period as he delivered a perfect pass to Gabriel Landeskog, setting up Colorado's second goal of the night. Landeskog ripped a shot from the slot into the top right corner over the glove of Ilya Bryzgalov to give Colorado a 2-1 lead.
The same two hooked up yet again 12-minutes in when MacKinnon's initial rush down the left side saw him beat the Wild defense to the corner and center for Paul Statsny. Statsny effectively sent a spinning, no-look backhand pass to Landeskog on the right doorstep for a point-blank shot on net, which he converted for a 3-1 lead.
Mike Yeo pulled Bryzgalov, sending Darcy Kuemper on in relief.
The Wild closed the period with a furious flurry, but couldn't beat Colorado keeper Semyon Varlamov.
END PERIOD 1: Wild 1, Avalanche 1
Goals: MIN- Coyle; COL - MacKinnon
Shots: MIN - 11; COL - 10
PP: MIN - 0/2; COL - 0/0
The Wild came out applying severe pressure on the Avalanche goal right from the drop of the puck.
After several near-misses, Mikko Koivu streaked down the left wing and fired the puck toward the Colorado net. Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov got his stick on the puck, but it deflected to Charlie Coyle in front who was able to slam it in just before he crashed into the net. After a review, the goal stood - giving the Wild a 1-0 lead 4:18 into the game.
Just two minutes later, Nathan MacKinnon showed why he's likely to win the NHL's Rookie of the Year honor. MacKinnon gained the zone, showing his speed, then took advantage of a fallen Jared Spurgeon to find enough room to launch a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov.
"We gotta get it back down there and work our cycle game and forecheck," Wild forward Matt Moulson said after one period on the Fox Sports North telecast. "They have some forwards who are pretty quick."
The Wild failed to convert on two power play opportunities.
"Just getting pucks to the net, and (getting) guys to the net... that's the biggest thing on the power play, just getting everything to the net," Moulson said.