The Wild versus the Avalanche is supposed to be a rivalry. At least they play in the same division because the rivalry that Avs fans and Minnesota fans are seeing that dominated by the Wild on the ice since the Wild won in Game 7 two years ago. Minnesota got goals from Matt Dumba, Justin Fontaine, and Jason Pominville to dispatch the Avalanche from St. Paul in the first part of a home and home series.
The Wild escaped Nathan MacKinnon walking in right off the faceoff, but since then, Minnesota absolutely dominated the Colorado Avalanche. Placing 44 shots on goal and only surrendering 20 themselves, it couldn't have been a better 60 minute effort for the Wild in front of 19,173 at Xcel Energy Center.
The first period ended in a scoreless tie, but the Wild saw plenty of chances in its favor. It dominated puck possession and played a solid defensive game. Zach Parise and his line played easily the best cohesive game in a long time. While ending up with just an empty-net goal, that line created chance after chance, after chance on the ice.
In the second period, the Wild kept pouring on the pressure. Again, by creating chances like crazy, the Wild tested Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov often. Varlamov, who was really good all game long, just couldn't keep the puck out forever from the onslaught that was the Wild forecheck. Matt Dumba finally broke through at the 13:27 mark with a blistering shot from the point. It was Dumba's second goal in as many games. He's been much better in the offensive zone since he and the team was challenged by head coach Mike Yeo.
Unfortunately, the Wild lost Devan Dubnyk to an apparent lower body injury late in the second period. During a TV timeout, the Wild goaltender tested pushing off with his left leg before he left the ice for the rest of the game. Darcy Kuemper made seven saves in relief to secure the combination shutout.
The Wild, looking to continue its great effort, got an insurance goal from Justin Fontaine. Fontaine had a 2-on-1 break and was denied by Varlamov on a point-blank shot, but the puck eventually circled up to the point where Marco Scandella let go a slap shot. the at shot was re-directed past Varlamov by Fontaine for just his 2nd goal of the season.
Patrick Roy would pull the goalie with just over two minutes remaining in the game, and Jason Pominville would net a goal in the empty net to seal the victory for the Wild.
Ryan Suter still saw 27 minutes in a victory and a game that the Wild dominated from start to finish. Both Parise and Pominville led the way for the Wild with five shots each. The Wild ended 0-for-4 on the power play. The Wild just played a every solid defensive game by using the defensemen to create offense, and the forecheck kept the Avs hemmed in the defensive zone for large chunks of the game.
It'll be the same two teams on Monday night at 8 PM CT from the Pepsi Center in Denver. Expect a different Colorado team to come out in that game. If Dubnyk has to miss the game for injury or the birth of his second child, the game could very well swing the other way. Hockey Wilderness will have all things Wild related for that game and more, so be sure to check back often.
All in all. a good 60 minute effort.