|Date of game: 4/24/2014
Recap: Minnesota vs. Colorado
St. Paul, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - The Wild came home from Colorado down two games in their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Avalanche.
Following consecutive stellar starts from goaltender Darcy Kuemper, they're leaving Minnesota with the series even at 2-2.
Charlie Coyle and Jared Spurgeon each scored once while Kuemper turned aside 11-of-12 shots to send the Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Avalanche in Game 4 on Thursday from Xcel Energy Center.
The 23-year-old Kuemper registered a 22-save shutout in his first-ever playoff start in Game 3 and followed that effort up by stopping the only five shots he faced in the third on Thursday to maintain Minnesota's one-goal lead.
"I've kind of learned the importance of showing confidence in yourself because I think the players feed off that a little bit," Kuemper said. "It relaxes them in the defensive zone, but it's easy to do when they're playing the way they are in front of me."
Kuemper got his second straight start in place of Ilya Bryzgalov, who allowed five goals on 31 shots in Game 1 and gave up three more on 14 shots in Game 2 before being replaced by Kuemper in the second period.
Ryan O'Reilly registered the lone goal for Colorado, which will return home to host Game 5 on Saturday.
"We know that we're strong at home," Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog said of heading home for Game 5 with the series tied at 2-2. "We're just going to go home and regroup and get back to work on Saturday."
Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots in the setback.
Spurgeon provided the home crowd with a spark just under four minutes in, as he pinched in from the point and rifled a one-timer past Varlamov's blocker from the slot at 3:47.
A hooking penalty against Landeskog helped Minnesota double the margin with just over seven minutes left in the second.
With the Wild on the power play, Jason Pominville fired a wrister from the right faceoff dot that missed the net high. However, the disc took a strange carom off the end boards and ended up on the low left side, where Coyle swatted it home with a backhand to make it 2-0 at 12:55.
The Avalanche answered 30 seconds later, as O'Reilly rifled a wrister from atop the right circle that slipped through Kuemper's five-hole to bring Colorado within 2-1 at 13:25.
Kuemper kept the Avs off the board from there, but a hooking minor against Minnesota's Jonas Brodin at 17:46 allowed Colorado head coach Patrick Roy to pull Varlamov for a 6-on-4 advantage.
The Minnesota netminder was up to the task however, turning aside the late Colorado flurry to keep the Wild in front.Game Notes
Kuemper has allowed just one goal in 150:18 this postseason ... Colorado went
0-for-4 on the power play for the second straight game ... Colorado forward
Joey Hishon made his NHL debut and logged just over 6 1/2 minutes of ice time
... Minnesota's Matt Cooke served the first contest of his seven-game
suspension for kneeing Colorado's Tyson Barrie in Game 3. Barrie is out four-
to-six weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.