Minnesota Wild Win 5th Straight, Beat The Colorado Avalanche 1-0
For the first time all season, the Minnesota Wild are winners of 5 straight games, shutting out the Colorado Avalanche for the 3rd time this season. Charlie Coyle’s first period goal stood as the game winner.
Good evening, Minnesota Wild fans. In 180 minutes of play between the Wild and the Colorado Avalanche this season, the Avalanche have yet to score a goal. Semyon Varlamov and Devan Dubnyk played brilliantly in their creases, but Varlamov couldn’t sustain a first period flurry. All four lines clicked tonight, but the 3rd line shined the brightest. Now just 5 points out of a playoff spot. Before we get to my notes, be sure to check out Andrew’s coverage of who the Wild should go after at the trade deadline.
I wasn’t sure Colorado got off the bus for the first few minutes. After Mikko Koivu took the first shot on goal 19 seconds in, the Avalanche looked defeated. Koivu was an absolute beast tonight, but I’ll get to that later.
Jordan Schroeder, who’s performed extremely well since his recall from Iowa, got absolutely destroyed by Nick Holden against the boards as he continued his quest for his first point in a Minnesota Wild sweater.
Jason Zucker and Jason Pominville had three separate chances to bury home a goal on an outstretched Varlamov. Unfortunately, neither of them were able to get the puck up and over Varly.
Erik Haula’s hustle sent the Wild to its first power play of the night. The top power play unit spent almost the entire 2 minutes on the ice, but couldn’t unlock Varlamov. Koivu had the lone shot on goal with the man advantage.
A few minutes later, with the third line on the ice, Charlie Coyle scored the eventual game winner. Coyle, Schroeder, Nino Niederreiter, Jared Spurgeon, and Marco Scandella used momentum from the 4th line to cycle through the offensive zone, generating several scoring chances and beating the Avalanche to loose pucks everywhere. Niederreiter grabbed a loose puck off the back wall and sent it up to the blue line for Scandella who let loose a booming slap shot bound directly for Varlamov’s blocker. Luckily, Coyle executed a beautiful tip-in to drop the puck down and through Varlamov’s 5-hole to make it 1-0 Wild at 11:21 of the first period.
This is exactly the kind of thing we need to see from Coyle and Niederreiter. Both are big bodied guys that have shown they aren’t afraid to get their nose dirty. The simple fact is they need to do that more often.
Zucker sent the Wild back to the power play after getting tripped on a breakaway. Technically, he could’ve earned a penalty shot; however, he still got a shot away so the referees awarded a power play instead. Mikko Koivu and Mathew Dumba had the two shots for the Wild on that power play try.
The Avalanche retreated to the locker room having been outchanced 33-6 by the buzzing Wild.
Shots through one period: Colorado Avalanche 4, Minnesota Wild 17
Kyle Brodziak had an early breakaway chance set up by Dumba, but was unable to get a shot past Varlamov.
Niederreiter gave the Avalanche a power play chance around the 7th minute by laying a nasty slash on John Mitchell. Zach Parise played on the PK in lieu of the injured Matt Cooke and limited the Avalanche to one shot on goal.
It actually took the Wild until around the 12th minute to maintain some kind of zone pressure. Unsurprisingly, it was the Coyle line. That line was wicked tonight, I swear.
Thomas Vanek and Zach Parise had a 2-on-0 breakaway. Vanek executed a gorgeous drop pass to give Parise a great chance, but Parise couldn’t get the shot away.
Nothing else to report on the second, Colorado seemed to make the necessary adjustments to slow down the Wild
Shots after two periods: Colorado Avalanche 9, Minnesota Wild 22
Mikael Granlund got run down by Jan Hjeda before the first minute faded off the clock. The top unit again dominated the power play time on ice, registering 3 shots. More on that in a bit.
To add to the drama factor, Brodziak went to the sin bin with a little less than 6 minutes left. Devan Dubnyk faced 5 shots on goal, stopping them all, though one save came with a little help from Jonas Brodin. You’ll recall from above that Dubnyk only faced 4 shots in the first 20 minutes, so he got a bit of a workout.
I’ve said it a lot, but thank god for the Wild’s familiarity with the Avalanche. Varlamov went off to the bench with 1:49 left, and the Wild stymied a valiant effort by Colorado to tie the game. Game over, Wild win 1-0 in regulation.
Final shots on goal: Colorado Avalanche 18, Minnesota Wild 29
The Wild sure know how to deliver a thriller, eh? I was pretty concerned when they took their foot off the gas in the second; however, Dubnyk delivered again. You can read my thoughts on the new netminder here, but I might be made a believer. Per Elias Sports Bureau, Dubnyk is the fastest goaltender to reach 4 shutouts with one club in the NHL’s expansion era. That’s pretty cool. With the Wild, he’s 7-1-0 with a stellar 1.30 GAA and a 0.948 save percentage. Varlamov was fantastic on the other end, as well.
Koivu has been absolutely stellar since moving down to the second line with Zucker. Tonight, he had 4 shots on goal, won 59% of his face-offs, and was a respectable 59% corsi-for.
Niederreiter, Coyle, and Schroeder were a powerhouse tonight, too. All three of them had corsi-for percentages above 68%. Niederreiter was a team-leading 80%. I think its safe to say his defensive game is much better.
One thing I don’t understand is the lack of power play time for the second unit. Coyle had the game winner, Niederreiter is playing incredibly well, and Granlund seems to be finding his game.
The Wild is off until Monday, when they take on the Vancouver Canucks at 7:00 central time. I’ll be live at the game, so look for updates on twitter. Thanks for reading!