Despite a furious Minnesota Wild comeback in the last 3:30 of the third period that tied the game at two and a scoreless overtime Minnesota falls in the shootout to the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. Wild Captain Mikko Koivu tied the game with just 5.7 seconds left on the clock to send the game to overtime and allow the Wild to pick up a point. They now trail the Av’s by 3 points in the Central Division. The Wild are now 12-2-3 in last 17 trips to Denver’s Pepsi Center. Minnesota’s road record now stands at 5-5-3 on the season and 15-8-5 overall. The Wild now head home to face the Philadelphia Flyers, Monday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
Wild Captain Mikko Koivu summed up the night best saying, “We got one point we came here for two obviously but we didn’t do so we just have to move on.“ Through most of the game it looked like a repeat of the last two Wild losses with the team falling behind by a pair of goals. The first of which Colorado scored early in the first period. This was the 7th straight game in which Minnesota has surrendered the games first goal. The Wild looked better than they have in the last few games as they generated shots on goal and many excellent scoring chances. The Wild nearly tied the game at the 14:00 mark of the 1st period on a wraparound move by Matt Cooke. The puck slid behind Varlamov and lay on the goal line. The Av’s goalie looked behind him, but Jan Hejda managed to push the puck into the crease and Varlamov knocked it aside. Minnesota just couldn’t solve Semyon Varlamov until Matt Cooke beat him with a shot from the slot over the shoulder to cut the Avalanche lead to one with 3:27 to play. The Wild heavily out played the Av’s in the final period out shooting them 15-6 and heavily leading in scoring opportunities. The shocking ending to regulation left the Pepsi Center crowd stunned. They erupted again however when Varlamov shut down Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, and Jason Pominville, the three Wild shooters in the shootout. Wild goal tender Josh Harding shut down the first two Colorado shooters but missed on a poke check on Ryan O’Reilly who slid the puck home five-hole to secure the victory and the second point for the Avalanche.
The Wild’s best line all game long consisted of Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak, and Torrey Mitchell. They played with speed, got shots on goal and according to Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo, “They were consistent shift after shift”. They finally broke through and I for one was not surprised that the Wild’s first goal came from that line. Then at the end of the game the big guns on the top line came through. Pominville and Parise sent perfect passes that end with Captail Koivu beating Varlamov to tie the game. The Wild simply refused to go away tonight and in his post game comments Wild Caoch Yeo said, “We were clearly engaged in the game and we out-chanced them and were really getting into our game and starting to play the right way.” The point in the standings the Wild picked up tonight was huge as well and may signal a turning point in their play which has not bee great as of late. Coach Yeo addressed that as well saying, “The way our games been lately it’s fair to say more down than up. The most important first step for us was to go out and play a really good game. It was a different feeling on the bench than we’ve had lately”. This was a much better game for the Wild but they need to quit giving up the first goal and playing from behind for the majority of the game. Maybe that is what we’ll see Monday night back in St. Paul as the Wild battle the Flyers.
I’ll be back on Monday morning with a preview of the Wild vs Flyers. Tonight was about as exciting as a game can get in the final 3:30 of regulation. The Wild didn’t win the shootout and thereby lost a game they should have won. There will be games like that in the marathon that is the NHL season. Take heart Wild fans the team is off to a great start even with the recent rough stretch. The scoring touch seems to be returning and tomorrow is another day, Monday is another game. Until next time this is Scott Drain shouting in a confident fashion,” LET’S GO WILD, LET”S GO WILD!!!”