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Wild year-end winning streak to 3 games with victory over Avalanche

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NHL: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There were some pretty goals, some pretty plays, and some dominant shifts in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. In the end, Minnesota needed a reversal of a reversal to wind up with the “W” when the game clock hit 0:00. Jason Zucker, Nate Prosser, Nino Niederreiter, and Mikael Granlund found the back of the net in the win.

It took just ten seconds for the Wild to get on the board. Zucker chased down the puck that was deflected into the offensive zone. His speed allowed him to take advantage of Calvin Pickard’s fumble behind the net, and Zucker was able to wrap the puck in. The goal tied his personal record for fastest goal to start a game ever. The franchise record is eight seconds. Minnesota continued to dominate to the pace, the chances, the shot attempts and pretty much every thing in the first period. Nate Prosser would score his second of the season when a shot from the point found its way through a Charlie Coyle screen near the end of the period. Shots were tied at eight aside.

The Wild left off the gas a bit in the second. Some great passing plays early by the Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Zach Parise line ended with some solid saves by Pickard. Former North Dakota Fighting Hawk Tyson Jost corralled a seeing-eye pass and deposited it over the shoulder of Devan Dubnyk for his first if the season. Jost’s Grandpa was in the seats, and became emotional with the goal getting announced over the public address system. Jost went away in high school to play hockey, and his granparents went with him. They sacrificed their time and energy in their advanced age to help their grandson achieve his dream. I can understand the emotion.

The Wild were starting to get some shifts back in their favor when Erik Johnson took aim at Jason Pominville, who was in a hunched over position having just fought through a check. Johnson gave him a good crunch to which Ryan White took exception. White would get an additional two minutes on the play and the Avalanche started to take back momentum. A string of penalties kept the momentum on the side of Colorado. As Joel Eriksson Ek was returning to the ice following a holding minor, Francois Beauchemin had a shot that eluded Dubnyk short side and into the net.

Both teams returned to the ice after the intermission in a 2-2 gridlock. However, the Wild from the first period returned, and they’d take back the lead. Eric Staal would work the puck from the left corner up to the left point. Ryan Suter would give Staal the puck right back, and he suddenly found a lane to the net. As Staal encroached on the low slot, the Avalanche defenders left Niederreiter open for an easy tap in. Great play all-in-all by Staal to set Niederreiter up. With the goal, Niederreiter would set a new career high in goals.

Not to be out-done, Mikael Granlund would fire a puck with eyes from the out rim of the left faceoff circle that Pickard missed with his glove. It was his 26th of his great 69-point season.

Nate Prosser would end up kicking in a Matt Nieto shot past Dubnyk to bring the Avalanche back within one. With the goalie pulled and on the power play, the Avalanche looked like they scored, but the official, Tom Watson waved it off. It looked like the old “intent to blow” rule would keep the score 4-3. Instead, the officials huddled, called the War Room in Toronto, and ruled that it was a goal.

First off, the “Intent to Blow” rule might be one of the worst rules in hockey. Players are taught to the play to the whistle, the clock doesn’t stop until the whistle, and therefore play shouldn’t stop a second before because the official was late in raising his fingers to his mouth. That said, the rule does exist, and whether or not you agree with it, it does deaden the play prior to when the whistle actually blows.

Instead, the officials reversed their initial call, essentially reneging on the whole thing. Which, if things were consistent, that would mean a heckuva a lot of other “intent to blow” calls should count...or at least count from here on out.

To compound things worse, after they ruled it was a goal, and that the puck had legally entered the net, Bruce Boudreau used his challenge, being that there was 1:14 left in the game. Had it been under a minute, the officials would have had to make the decision to go to a review. Nate MacKinnon clearly pushed Jonas Brodin into Devan Dubnyk before the puck crossed the goal line and the officials then over-turned their overturn. It was not a goal.

It drives me insane that this happens. What should have happened on the original review is:

  1. Officials make the call to Toronto
  2. They discuss the nature of if the puck went in.
  3. Next, they rule out any thing deemed illegal such as kicking motion or high stick.
  4. Finally, they look for goaltender interference, or offside.
  5. Toronto and the on-ice officials come to an agreement, the play is certified on all accounts.

Then we don’t have to have this review, then challenge crap, and a goal that was overturned, then becomes overturned again.

Minnesota held off the Avalanche for the final seconds and Devan Dubnyk would cinch his 40th win of the season. It’s the third win in a row and it’s officially now a winning streak. The Wild hope to gives some guys a rest and finish with another win when they travel to Arizona to wrap up the season against the Coyotes.