Sluggish Start in Denver Dooms Wild

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Wild lose to the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 after a sluggish first two periods chase Darcy Kuemper.

If the you told me that the Wild would have given the Avalanche four power plays in the first two periods, including three power plays in the span of six minutes in the first, I would have told you the Wild lost and that the game was played in mid-December.

No, this game was played after the Wild took five of six points from three of the top-5 teams in the Western Conference. Minnesota tied the game early in the first period with a Zach Parise goal and then preceded to march to the penalty box...over and over and over again. The Wild were lucky to escape the first period with a 1-1 tie after being outshot 10-7 by Colorado.

The second period didn't fare any better as the Avs would take a commanding lead with three goals in the stanza. The second of the three goals was rather controversial as a pass from Gabriel Landeskog to Erik Johnson to enter the zone on Paul Stastny's goal was clearly offsides. The third goal was credited to Maxime Talbot but it was Kyle Brodziak scoring...for the other team. Mike Yeo, on behalf of his rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper, would cry "UNCLE" and put in Niklas Backstrom for the first time since January 11th to try and light a fire under his team's asses.

Minnesota clearly felt bad for Kuemper's sake and turned it on in the third period. Yeo juggled the lines and FINALLY put Parise on a line with Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville and would that line spark a comeback. Fans at Pepsi Center thought the Wild were dead in the water, but instead saw the GranRiseVille line explode for three goals in the final frame. Unfortunately, a bad turnover at the blueline sent Nathan MacKinnon in alone on Backstrom and MacKinnon wouldn't miss the upper corner of the net over Backstrom's glove.

Minnesota falls short in Denver where the Wild seemed like they were getting over their contact high in the first two periods only to storm back in the third period. The Wild will now head to Calagry, Alberta to take on the Flames on Saturday night. The game against Calgary will be the last of this latest four-game road trip and last before the Olympic break.

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