(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild aim to stay alive in the Western Conference quarterfinals on Monday, as they host the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 at Xcel Energy Center.
Playing at home has meant everything so far in this best-of-seven series, with the host winning the first five tests. Colorado broke a 2-2 deadlock with an OT win in Saturday's Game 6 at the Pepsi Center, and the Wild hope the trend holds true again tonight. If Minnesota can extend the series on Monday, a decisive Game 7 will be played Wednesday in Denver.
Colorado, however, could have star forward Matt Duchene back in Game 6. Duchene, who has been sidelined since March 29 with an injured left knee, practiced Sunday and there is a good chance he will play on Monday.
"If he is back it's a huge addition for us," Avs forward Ryan O'Reilly said. "He's been one of our best players all year, and for me, he really helps create offense playing on a line. He brings so much to the table it makes it a lot difficult for them (opponents)."
Duchene led the Avs with 70 points (23 goals, 47 assists) in 71 games this season. The 23-year-old centerman's only career playoff action came in a six- game run with Colorado against San Jose in the 2010 conference quarterfinals. Duchene had three assists in those six games.
After winning the first two games on home ice, Colorado allowed Minnesota to tie the series at 2-2 with two straight victories in St. Paul. However, the Avalanche were able to regain their advantage on Saturday with a comeback victory.
Nathan MacKinnon's terrific rookie season continued, as the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy scored 3:27 into OT to lift Colorado to a 4-3 win in Game 5. MacKinnon also added two assists after being held without a point in consecutive losses at Minnesota. He had a goal and six assists in the first two games at Pepsi Center.
Before getting the game-winning marker from MacKinnon, Colorado had to tie the game late in the third period. In a bad break for the Wild, the game-tying goal shouldn't have counted based on video review as Paul Stastny narrowly beat a puck-carrying MacKinnon into the Minnesota zone. However, the play wasn't blown dead for an offside.
With play allowed to continue, MacKinnon chipped the puck ahead to Stastny, who snapped a shot from below the left circle that Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper turned away. Stastny then gathered the rebound and slipped the puck into the slot, where P.A. Parenteau fired the puck home with 1:14 remaining in regulation for his first career playoff goal.
"It is what it is, but to sit here and dwell on it, I don't think is going to do us any good," said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. "Obviously frustrating, obviously disappointing, but bottom line is, it's not going to do us any good."
In overtime, MacKinnon handled a pass from Gabriel Landeskog in the left circle, made a move around Wild defenseman Marco Scandella and scored on a shot to the top right corner.
"I was kind of screaming for the puck from Landy. He obviously made a good heads-up play to me," MacKinnon said. "(Stastny) looked great on the forecheck. I kind of just fired it to the net and I don't know if it tipped off one of their defenders or not, but I'm definitely very fortunate for the win."
MacKinnon (18 years, 237 days) is the second-youngest player in NHL history to score an overtime goal in the playoffs. Don Gallinger was 17 years, 339 days when he scored an OT winner for Boston on March 21, 1943 against Montreal
"We knew when we drafted him what kind of player we were drafting, and he had a solid game again tonight," Colorado head coach Patrick Roy said about MacKinnon.
Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves for Colorado, but the best save belonged to Avalanche defenseman Nick Holden, who prevented a goal in the extra session by blocking a Matt Moulson shot.
Kuemper surrendered four goals on 35 shots after facing a combined 34 shots in the previous two games.
This is the third all-time playoff meeting between the clubs. The Wild won a 2003 conference quarterfinals matchup in seven games, while the Avalanche knocked off Minnesota in six games during the same round in 2008.
Thirteen of the 18 all-time playoff games between Colorado and Minnesota have been decided by one goal.