ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund was stick-less and alone to defend the point , facing an Avalanche offense with a two-man advantage due to a power-play and having pulled goaltender Semyon Varlamov in the final minutes.
Granlund, the Minnesota Wild forward known more for his playmaking than defense, laid out to block a shot. His stick still stuck along the boards while Colorado controlled the puck, Granlund blocked two more shots, not even giving the Avalanche a chance to test Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
The Finnish forward who won Game 3 in overtime with a skillful individual play sacrificed his body to make the defining plays in Game 4, signifying the Wild's all-out effort in dominating two games in Minnesota and evening the first-round playoff series at two games apiece.
"Well, this is sort of the attitude that our whole group has," Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo said. "Everybody's committed to playing a certain way, and when you go out and you do that, then a different...