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                 === Wild shock Avalanche with OT victory in Game 7 ===
 Denver,  CO  ( -  Nino  Niederreiter's  second goal  of  the
 contest  was  the overtime and series  winner, as the Minnesota Wild claimed a
 thrilling 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Wednesday's Game 7 of the
 Western Conference quarterfinals.
 Dany  Heatley, who picked up a score in the second period, began the play with
 a  long lead pass from his own defensive zone up to Kyle Brodziak, who chipped
 over  to  Niederreiter for  a 2-on-1  break. Niederreiter  then ripped a heavy
 wrister home from the right wing at the 5:02 mark.
 "It  happened  so quickly.  I  didn't  know how  to  react  right away,"  said
 Niederreiter,  the 21-year-old  Swiss  native who  recorded  his first  career
 playoff  goals.  "It sure is a  big stage. And I  am very lucky to have gotten
 this  chance. We needed to play at a higher level tonight, and we did, and got
 Mikko Koivu and Jared Spurgeon also lit the lamp for the Wild, who advanced to
 the  second  round by winning  the terminal  contest in this best-of-seven set
 after erasing four one-goal deficits. Brodziak ended up with three helpers.
 Ilya Bryzgalov picked up the win after stopping the lone puck he faced through
 13:15  of action.  He subbed for Darcy  Kuemper, who departed the game late in
 the  third  period for an undisclosed  reason, having allowed four goals on 21
 Minnesota  has  won all three  Game 7s in franchise  history, all on the road,
 and  has  beaten Colorado twice.  The Wild ended  Avs head coach Patrick Roy's
 playing  career with a 3-2 OT decision in Denver on April 22, 2003 and managed
 to end the Hall of Famer's first year behind an NHL bench in similar fashion.
 Their  reward  is a second-round date  with the defending Stanley Cup champion
 Chicago Blackhawks beginning Friday night.
 "Every  game  in  the series  it  was  a  different  guy. It  wasn't  an  easy
 thing  to win a  game in this series at all," Koivu stated. "Both teams played
 hard  and they played well. We have a big challenge ahead with the Stanley Cup
 champs and not a lot of time to prepare."
 Nick  Holden, Jamie  McGinn,  Paul Stastny  and Erik  Johnson  scored for  the
 Avalanche,   who   suffered  a   painful  defeat   after  tying  a  franchise-
 record with 52 regular-season wins along with a Central Division title.
 Matt  Duchene and P.A. Parenteau chipped in a pair of assists each, but Semyon
 Varlamov was on the hook for all five scores on 35 shots.
 "It  was  a  good  season  overall,  but right  now  it's  just  not  fun.  We
 got  the lead  four times, but they showed resilience," Parenteau admitted. "I
 thought  we played  a good game. They  played a tight game from their defense,
 especially in the neutral zone. We had to find ways to fight through it."
 Niederreiter  went  off for hooking  just 1:50 in,  and Colorado picked up the
 game's  first  goal just 1:02 later  as Holden backhanded a loose puck through
 traffic and in from the left side of the crease.
 Koivu evened things on a drive from the left side at 8:04, but McGinn restored
 the  Avs'  one-goal advantage at 13:38  by redirecting a Joey Hishon pass from
 between the circles.
 Heatley  pumped one past  Varlamov from the left side of the crease to forge a
 2-2 deadlock at the 7:27 mark of the second period, and the game continued its
 back-and-forth momentum swings.
 The  Avalanche assumed  a 3-2 advantage just prior to the three-minute mark of
 the  third period, as  Stastny moved up from his point position just below the
 circles  to meet up with a centering feed by Parenteau and beat Kuemper with a
 shot through traffic.
 Niederreiter  atoned  for his earlier mistake  and tied the game with a rising
 wrister from the right circle at 6:33 that beat Varlamov high to the far side.
 Kuemper  made a slick  save on Ryan O'Reilly's rush up the middle as the clock
 ticked  down  within nine minutes  left in  regulation, but the Wild netminder
 didn't have his bearings when Johnson jumped into the play and put his club up
 4-3 with 8:44 to play on a low shot from distance.
 Seconds  later, Kuemper  was lifted in favor of Bryzgalov, who hadn't appeared
 since  Game 2. The  sudden change paid off when Spurgeon allowed an Avs player
 to slide by him, then let fly from the right circle and Minnesota gained a 4-4
 deadlock with 2:27 on the clock.
 "They  were a  desperate team tonight, and  it's hard to keep a desperate team
 from the net," Duchene said. "I thought we had them. This is heartbreaking. We
 have to learn from this. The game should not have gone into overtime."
 Minnesota's  Mikael Granlund  had the best chance for either side early in the
 extra session, moving uncontested up the left wing and chipping a shot off the
 pad of Varlamov roughly 2 1/2 minutes in.
                                   Game Notes
 Minnesota  forward Zach  Parise saw his six-game point streak (3G, 7A) come to
 an  end  in the victory ...  Colorado rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon finished
 the  series with 10 points (2G, 8A) in three Avalanche wins, but zero in their
 four  losses. The favorite to win the Calder Trophy finished with a game-worst
 minus-3  despite four  shots on goal ...  The Wild improved to 9-5 all-time in
 playoff  elimination games,  and upped their mark to 5-1 against the Avalanche
 in  such contests  ... The Avalanche/Nordiques fell to 6-7 all-time in Game 7,
 including 4-6 since moving to Denver ... Minnesota dropped a five-game, first-
 round series to Chicago last season.
 05/01 01:49:41 ET