VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Minnesota Wild used two improbable comebacks to set up the unlikeliest of Western Conference finals.
Darby Hendrickson scored with 5:12 left as the Wild rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 in Game 7 Thursday night.
This rally completed the Wild's second comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to win in these playoffs. No team had done that twice in the same year, but the 3-year-old Wild have made history in their first trip to the postseason.
The sixth-seeded Wild will host Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against No. 7 Anaheim on Saturday night.
In the first round, Minnesota stormed back to win the final three games against the Colorado Avalanche. In each series, the Wild won two of the last three — including Game 7 — on the road.
Vancouver's loss ruined the chance for the first all-Canada Stanley Cup finals since Calgary beat Montreal in 1989. The Ottawa Senators, who had an NHL-best 113 points this season, will play the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference finals.
Hendrickson took a drop pass just inside the Vancouver blue line and wired a long, low slap shot under the glove of Dan Cloutier.
Wes Walz tied it 2-2 at 8:05 of the third period. The Wild are 6-0 when facing elimination. In the final three wins against Vancouver, normally defensive-minded Minnesota outscored the Canucks 16-5.
Pascal Dupuis, who missed the last two games with an ankle injury, made it 4-2 with 2:33 left. He connected on a power play after Vancouver's Todd Bertuzzi was sent off for pushing Minnesota defenseman Andrei Zyuzin into goalie Dwayne Roloson.
Mattias Ohlund and Bertuzzi scored 61 seconds apart in the second period to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead. But the Wild, as they have throughout their playoff run, took advantage of a good break to get back in the game.
Marek Malik's clearing attempt hit Sergei Zholtok's stick behind the Vancouver net and the puck bounced over the net. Dupuis batted it out of the air on the other side for his first goal of the game.
For the third straight game the Canucks blitzed Minnesota, outshooting the Wild 12-6 and delivering several big body checks in the first period. But for the third straight game the Canucks couldn't put an early goal past Roloson.
Ohlund finally scored with a low slap shot from the top of the left circle that beat a screened Roloson at 11:29 of the second. Bertuzzi scored his only goal of the second round on a breakaway during the next shift.
Henrik Sedin's long pass bounced off a Wild stick at center ice and straight to Bertuzzi behind the Minnesota defense.
Bertuzzi, who had 46 regular-season goals, skated in and roofed a backhand over Roloson's glove for his second goal in 14 playoff games.
But Dupuis took advantage of the first break, and Walz tied it on another one in the third.
Antti Laaksonen's centering pass bounced off a skate in the crease, and straight to Walz, who caught Cloutier out of position playing the pass.
Cloutier finished with 12 saves.
Minnesota received the only two power plays in the game that was played just one day after the Wild beat the Canucks at home in Game 6.
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