Devin Setoguchi broke a 1-1 tie 12 minutes and 20 seconds into the second period to give the Wild the lead for good. He sent a blistering slap shot on the power play from the top of the circles through Semyon Varlamov.
The Avalanche (15-25-7) did not just roll over and head into the offseason. They put in valiant effort to tie the game, but Niklas Backstrom made 15 of his 29 saves in the final period.
The Wild went back into a defensive shell of chipping the puck out of the defensive and defend – hockey’s version of the prevent defense. That is how the Avalanche were able to come so close to the tying the game.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard sent the Wild’s bench into a frenzy when he beat out the icing and tapped the puck into the open net with 3.4 seconds remaining in the game.
The Wild got on the board first when Zach Parise knocked a rebound through Varlamov’s legs six minutes and 42 minutes into the game.
The Wild (26-19-3) dominated the early portion of the first period while holding the Avalanche without a shot on goal until the 10:19 mark of the opening period.
The Avalanche took advantage of a defensive breakdown late in the first period to tie the game. Ryan O’Reilly was able to beat the defenseman out of the corner and sent a shot over the Backstrom’s glove shoulder.
The Wild’s reward for making the playoffs is a date with the President’s Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild are trying to become the second straight Western Conference No. 8 seed to knock off the President’s Trophy winners in the opening round of the playoffs.
“Let’s make it clear,” Mike Yeo said. “We’re not done.”
The Wild finished the regular season with one win in three games against the Blackhawks, including Chicago’s first loss of the season.
No. 3 – Zach Parise. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 2 – Niklas Backstrom. The Wild goaltender stopped 29 shots.
No. 1 – Devin Setoguchi. The Wild forward scored the game-winning goal.
Minnesota…..1 1 1 – 3
Colorado…….1 0 0 – 1
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Parise 18 (Coyle, Koivu), 6:42. 2, Colorado, O’Reilly 6 (Landeskog, Bordeleau), 18:07. Penalties – None.
Second Period – 3, Minnesota, Setoguchi 13 (Gilbert, Cullen), 12:20 (pp). Penalties – O’Brien, Col (slashing), 10:45.
Third Period – 4, Minnesota, Bouchard 8 (Spurgeon, Clutterbuck), 19:56. Penalties – Koivu, Min (roughing), 6:10; Bordeleau, Col (roughing), 9:14; Parenteau, Col (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:19.
Shots on goal – Minnesota 16-10-7 33. Colorado 4-11-15 30.
Goalies – Minnesota, Backstrom (29-30). Colorado, Varlamov (30-32). Referees – Brad Watson, Francois St. Laurent. Linesmen – Lonnie Cameron, Steve Barton.