Updated: 04/26/2014 7:57 AM KSTP.com By: Nick Tabbert
The Wild will host Colorado on Monday for Game 6.
Photo: Photo: AP/Ann Heisenfelt
Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo said his players cannot assume anything in Game 5.
Photo: Photo: KSTP/File
The Minnesota Wild has come from 2-0 down in its playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche to tie the series 2-2 heading into Saturday's Game 5 in Denver.
Getting there wasn't easy, but using a much more physical style of play, tough defense and timely offense, the Wild find themselves back in the series as the action returns to the Pepsi Center.
The challenge now is getting a road win. The Wild let a late lead get away in Game 1, and had no answers for the Avalanche line of Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny, and Gabriel Landeskog in Game 2.
Minnesota went 1-2 at Colorado during the regular season.
But as the NHL Playoffs have shown, playing on home ice can change everything.
The Wild played much better in Game 3, dominating the shots-on-goal, and escaped with an overtime win thanks to Mikael Granlund's acrobatic goal.
Then in Game 4, Minnesota got the lead early and continued its physical style of play. Colorado had a tough time getting any shots on goal, and the series' momentum had all but shifted to the Wild by the time the final horn sounded Thursday night.
But in Game 5 on Saturday Colorado once again has the home ice advantage and Minnesota once again has to try to find a way to beat them. The Avalanche went 26-11-4 at home during the regular season. Minnesota was 17-17-7 on the road.
Head coach Mike Yeo said he wants his team to make no assumptions heading into the most important game of the series so far.
"Don't assume that the next game is going to start the same way. Don't go in there with the expectation that we're just going to be able to pick up where we left off," he said. "Make it happen."
Minnesota played well on the road coming down the stretch of the regular season, winning four of its last six away contests. The losses were against Chicago and St. Louis, playoff teams that were among the league leaders in home winning percentage.
So in what is now a best-of-three series against Colorado, the Wild may have to play in Denver two more times.
That doesn't bother forward Charlie Coyle, who said he expects the Avalanche to come out strong in its own building and make a push.
"I think we just focus on our game and how we play and we'll be ok."