The Dallas Stars were able to even up their spirited series with the Anaheim Ducks last night and now the series turns into a best 2 of 3 with the home team winning all four games so far. This isn’t what we wanted however as we had the Ducks as underdogs, and it looked like a good bet after the first period as the Ducks jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the road. Four unanswered goals by the Stars followed and just like that the series is tied up heading back to the Honda Center in Anaheim. Ryan Getzlaf being a last minute scratch certainly didn’t help our cause, and I honestly don’t think I would have taken the Ducks without their Captain in the lineup, however we will move on and check out tonight’s action across the NHL playoffs.
Colorado Avalanche @ Minnesota Wild
My Pick – UNDER 5 (-110) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
Tonight we go with a familiar pick as the Minnesota Wild attempt to once again use home ice advantage to get back into their series against the Colorado Avalanche. The Wild were able to avoid a 3-0 hole by winning game three in overtime on a spectacular solo effort by Mikael Grandlund to set up tonight’s ever important game four from the Xcel Energy Center. The league’s fifth best team in terms of defensive goals per game at home with 2.2, the Wild are coming off of a shutout victory thanks to a great effort by Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper replaced Iyla Bryzgalov in goal for the Wild halfway through game two and was given the nod for game three and it paid immediate dividends for Mike Yeo and his team. Although it was a complete team effort on defence (the Wild only surrendered 22 shots to Colorado in game two), Kuemper was sharp when he needed to be and has yet to surrender a goal through 90+ minutes of hockey in these playoffs. Although Kuemper earned the shutout, the more impressive goaltending came from Avs netminder Semyon Varlomov as the Wild peppered the Russian goaltender with 46 shots on the evening with Varlomov stopping all but one. One of the big keys to victory in game three for Minnesota was to shut down and cool off the red-hot trio of Nathan McKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny and the Wild did just that, and the result was predictable: a low scoring game. I expect Mike Yeo to implore his team to do the same things they did in game three to shut down the impressive trio, leaving the scoring up to Colorado’s depth players which is exactly what we want tonight. The Wild have been very good at shutting down the Avalanche powerplay as Colorado has scored just one goal with the man advantage over their last ten meetings with Minnesota, and that came in game two of this series. That translates into Minnesota having a 96% penalty kill over their last ten games against Colorado. The UNDER is 9-4 over Colorado’s last 13 games and 5-2 in Colorado’s last seven games on the road. With strong goaltending expected again for game four of the series, I am once again going to go with the UNDER and watch another tight, low scoring game from the State of Hockey.