In the NHL, even when you face an inferior opponent, beating a team five times in a row is really difficult to do. They other team is a professional team (I use that term loosely when speaking about the Avalanche) and they have pride in their game. So you know coming into Sunday's game that winning wasn't going to be easy.
It's even more difficult when you shoot yourself in the foot if you're the Wild. Semyon Varlamov was difficult to beat and the Wild tried to make the perfect play resulting in a lot of blocked shots and not enough great chances on the Colorado goaltender.
It didn't take long for Cody McLeod and Chris Stewart to come to blows. In fact, it wasn't even a whole minute into the game when the fight broke out. McLeod jumped Stewart after Stewart was at the end of his shift and McLeod had just jumped over the boards. McLeod would get the last laugh and the loudest of "Boos" from the Wild faithful when he scored on tipped Jerome Iginla shot. It was also within the final two minutes of the period and it was a huge momentum shift in the game. The Wild dominated possession and zone time for the rest of the period, but just could not get one past Varlamov.
In the second period, the Wild carried most of the play again, but couldn't get much past Varlamov. Again, the Avs were blocking a lot of shots and the Wild failed to gather up the rebounds. One such shot of the stick of Matt Dumba stung Varlamov pretty good. The goaltender would continue to play and the Wild couldn't take advantage of a shaken-up netminder. Something called Zach Redmond took a slap shot from the Wild blue line that skipped and spun past Devan Dubnyk. This was not the sharpest of games for Dubnyk. He gave up a number of rebounds and the Redmond shot played him a little bit. Throughout the game the Wild were getting into penalty trouble and were solid on the kill.
That was until Gabriel Landeskog scored on the power play early in the third period. It was the first power play goal for any team in any game in this season-long series. Iginla took a shot that bounced around the crease area, Ryan O'Reilly was there, until Landeskog finally put it home. The Wild did attempt a comeback. Chris Stewart broke into the Colorado zone with a dump-in to the corner and he was able to gather his carom and score. Well, that's putting it lightly. Stewart chased the puck to the corner, swung and missed at the puck, and the puck went in off Tyson Barrie. The Wild did get a power play in the third period in which Mike Yeo pulled the goalie for an extra attacker with about seven minutes left in the game. The Wild were unable to score, but they did gain some momentum. That was maybe the first ballsy move we've seen from the head coach in his time here.
After the Wild goal, Reto Berra came into the game in relief of Varlamov. Varlamov left with an apparent injury and rumors were a clavicle resulting from the Dumba shot, but Patrick Roy said it was a lower body injury.
With 19 seconds left on the clock Thomas Vanek gobbled up a Nino Niederreiter shot and scored. Minnesota attempted their best Hermantown Hawks-style comeback. Zach Parise almost connected a centering pass to Niederreiter crashing in the slot, but an Avalanche stick got in the way. Minnesota lost, but with Winnipeg staying idle, the Wild should remain a point ahead of the Jets and in the first Wild card spot in the West.
Yeah, Wild fans, you can't win 'em all. Let the Avs fans have their fun Sunday as we all know who is in a better position in the standings and who owned them all season long.