It would be safe to say that the first period of Minnesota’s opening contest of the 2015-16 season was a dull one for the Wild. Coming off a four-game sweep to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Wild opened up with a tough road matchup against division rival Colorado and trailed 3-0 after the end of the first period of play.
The Avalanche draw three penalties within six minutes of one another in the period and converted on two of their three power play opportunities with goals from Jarome Iginla and Erik Johnson before Gabriel Landeskog beat Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk off of a rebound to give Colorado a three-goal lead with just over a minute to go in the first frame.
However, the Wild got some chances of their own. One of which was a golden opportunity for Zach Parise, who nearly quieted the Colorado crowd 10 minutes in, but shot a laser beam off the left post.
Already up against the wall, the Wild cut into the Avs lead with a three-on-two breakaway goal from Parise off a Colorado turnover nearly seven minutes into the second frame. But only 72 seconds later the Avs responded on another rebound goal. This time it was John Mitchell finding twine to give the home team another three-goal advantage at 4-1.
Colorado had multiple chances to possibly put the game away throughout the rest of the period, but Dubnyk bared down and the Wild went into the final stanza with the same three goal deficit.
Many assumed the fat lady had already begun her first renditions of the night, but it turns out she hadn’t even woken up yet from her evening nap.
As the third period began, and only five minutes in, Parise continued his standout performance and narrowed the Colorado lead to 4-2 off a nifty wrister to the top right corner of the goal.
Then things really started to get wild. Only two minutes later, Minnesota got within one goal of the Avs off of a clinical finish from Nino Niederreiter with plenty of time to tie, and even go ahead, in the contest.
Momentum is one heck of a thing in sports, and the Wild were riding a huge wave of it. To come this far and not capitalize would be an early season heartbreaker, but the only ones with their hearts being broken on this night wound up being the Avalanche and their home faithful.
Minnesota tied the game at four goals apiece just over two minutes later on a highlight-reel goal from Thomas Vanek on a nice feed from Mikael Granlund. But the job wasn’t done quite yet. The Wild needed one more goal to pull off the early season shocker.
That Parise guy? Pretty good at hockey! He would trigger the throwing of hats with his third of the night on the power play with just under 10 minutes to go in the game off a long-range, one-timed slap shot from the top of the key, sealing the magical comeback to open the season for Minnesota.
The Wild, despite having a bit of a down season in 2015-16, went 4-1 against the Avs over the course of that campaign. At the end of the day, this is a game that many will remember fondly for years. What a fun night in Denver.