This team huh? The Minnesota Wild came out of the gate firing shot after shot on Semyon Varlamov but the veteran netminder was on his game tonight and only relinquished 1 goal against as the Wild fell 5-1 to the Colorado Avalanche tonight in St. Paul. Through 2 periods tonight the Wild ripped off 27 shots on Varly but were trailing the Avs 2-1 heading into the final period where the Wild looked more like a team trying to milk a lead rather than attack.
The Wild showed up early tonight though. Through 2 periods you could feel they were just a good puck bounce or two away from taking the game over and finishing as they have in 24 of 35 home games this season, with a win. In the first period the Wild started controlling play early. They were buzzing around the offensive zone and crashing the net to create opportunities but were unable to get on the score sheet.
Jason Zucker took a pretty nasty slash from J.T. Compher and tumbled through the crease early in the 1st period and would exit down the tunnel to have a look at his hand. While Zucker would return for the 2nd period and seemed to still be skating well, you could tell he was favoring his left hand and keeping pressure off it when it wasn’t required.
Compher would start the scoring in the 1st period for the Avalanche, after the Wild had been dominating in the shot department. Compher flipped what should have been a harmless wrister from outside the dots and beat Devan Dubnyk high glove side to put the Avs up 1-0. This was a shot Dubnyk should have had. I’m not sure if it just caught him by surprise or what, but it wasn’t a difficult shot to get in front of.
The frustration began to mount for the Wild in the 2nd period. While they were still favored in the shot department and were looking good, the after whistle extras were building up and this inevitably brought Nate Prosser and Gabriel Landeskog together, taking a few extra shots at each other, one thing leads to another and both players spend 2 minutes in the box. I think the Wild take this trade off every time they can get it.
Mikko Koivu would find the back of the net for the Wild on this 4-on-4 action off a pretty feed from Charlie Coyle. Koivu grabbed the cross-ice feed and wristed one past Varly who was late getting over, but it would be his only mistake of the game. Nearly a minute later Nikita Zadorov would break the brief tie after Mikael Granlund got caught in no-man’s land in the defensive corner. The Avs forced a turnover and fed the puck out to Zadorov who hammered it home. Granlund could have gotten rid of the puck to Jonas Brodin behind the net but tried to push it up the ice instead. Poor choice kid.
In the 3rd period the Wild were only able to muster up 7 shots on goal. Which isn’t so bad if you know the Avs only shot the puck on net 7 times as well. I guess the only real difference here is that the Avalanche scored 3 times on their 7 shots, and the Wild did nothing with their limited opportunities. Nathan MacKinnon would score just 11 seconds in the the period, Compher would notch his 2nd goal of the game and Tyson Jost would finish off the scoring for the Avs with a late PP goal.
While the Wild had plenty to hang their hats on early in the game, the 3rd period they seemed to just plain disappear. Jared Spurgeon would go into the boards very awkwardly in the 3rd frame and had to be helped off the ice with a very probable lower-body injury (groin). We’ll have to stay tuned to get updates on both Spurgeon and Zucker as well. Zucker was able to return but a hand injury, especially this late in the season has to concern the Wild some.
With losing Luke Kunin for the season already the Wild are not as deep at the forward position as they had hoped. Dropping 2 points to a divisional rival on home ice in the heat of the playoff race is not something the Wild can afford to do if they wish to stay relevant heading down the stretch. The Wild now cling to a 3 point lead over the Avs and Dallas Stars who are occupying the wildcard spots currently in the West.
Next up for your Minnesota Wild, they travel to Las Vegas to take on the Golden Knights who are dominating in the Pacific Division right now and 2nd in the Western Conference behind the Nashville Predators. Puck drop against the Knights is this Friday at 9:30 Central.