Avalanche fall to Wild 5-3: Game 26 Recap

USA TODAY Sports

In a game that was at times boring and at times frantic, the Avs fail to get a point against a divisional rival on the road. Stop me if you've heard this one before.

The Avs started this one all over the Wild, spending most of the first three minutes in the Minnesota zone and putting 4 quick shots on net. Then Minnesota iced the puck and Cody McLeod and Zenon Konopka took the opportunity to punch each other's faces at 2:45. After the ensuing faceoff, the Wild put the puck deep into the Avalanche zone, Ryan Wilson's clearing attempt didn't make it out, Hunwick abandoned the slot, Stastny didn't come down to cover it, and Torrey Mitchell put one home on Varly, 1-0 Wild.

P.A. Parenteau and Matt Duchene had a 2 on 1 and Duchene missed a gaping net. Almost nothing at all happened in the six or seven minutes after that, except a bloody mouth for Duchene on a high stick as he changed... from Shane O'Brien. Both sides had some possession in the zone, especially Minnesota, who would get 7 of the game's next 8 SOG. At 14:42 Zack Parise cut across the crease without the puck and took a hit from Erik Johnson, who would go for interference. The Avs killed 1:30 of it (big effort from Kobasew and Hunwick) and then Zanon tapped a Wild player's stick, causing the latter to toss his hands in the air like he just don't care and draw a slashing call. The Avs killed all :30 of the 5 on 3 and eventually the rest of the penalty, despite some excellent Minnesota chances. Big saves from Semyon Varlamov and Erik Johnson.

The very next shift, Ryan O'Reilly, streaking down the left wing with the puck, drew a Charmin soft penalty from Justin Falk. The Avs moved the puck well, resulting in a slap shot for PA Parenteau on the left point; he duffed another hilarious off-speed knucklepuck that saw its way past Backstrom to tie the game 1-1 with 0:25 left in the period. If he's doing this on purpose then omg I love PA even more than I thought but it really just seems like profound luck.

The Avs started an insane second period on another power play after Mikko Koivu took the skates out from under Gabe Landeskog. The advantage was ultimately worse than useless, generating two shots but at least three against. The 4th line would soon get caught out on the ice for entirely too long. Varlamov made several huge saves to keep the game even. The Avs won the next faceoff, then Johnson put a shot wide and around the boards, releasing Setoguchi and Cullen on a 2 on 2 against O'Reilly and Zanon. Zanon attempted to defend from his ass (Theme alert!), got a shot on Varly, and Seto beat O'Reilly to the net for the rebound. 2-1 bad guys. O'Reilly can't get beat like that, Zanon has to stay on his skates, and Varly needs to eat that puck up. Horrible breakdown.

Minnesota kept up the pressure. Mike Rupp entered the zone against Zanon, who went for a clean hip check. Rupp tried to dodge it, couldn't because he's Mike Rupp, fell spectacularly to draw a penalty, but took a retaliation penalty rabbit punching Zanon in the back of the head.

0:13 into the 4 on 4, Arnason lookalike Jonas Brodin put a snipe behind Varlamov to give the Wild a two-goal lead. It was his first NHL goal, so congrats there. But the Avs answered immediately. Landeskog powered his way into the zone and went to the net; O'Reilly scooped up the puck behind the net and flipped it out to him; Landeskog showed great patience to get around Backstrom and knock one home, 3-2. Then the Avs would lose an offensive zone draw, Shane O'Brien fell (Theme'd!!!!!!), and Suter, Parise, and Koivu put together a gorgeous passing play to put one in an open net. Wild lead 4-2 after the 4 on 4.

After some more uneventful play, a few Avalanche chances but mostly controlled by the Wild, Koivu would spin to the ice and draw a tripping call on Gabe Landeskog. There was contact but it looked pretty weak. The Wild had plenty of opportunities, but the Avs ultimately would block several shots to kill the penalty and get into the locker room "only" down by two. When all was said and done, the Wild had put (according to Russo a season-high) 19 shots on goal in the period.

The third period began with most of the action in the Minnesota zone, with Duchene and Stastny's lines making some good chances happen. Minnesota slowed things down, the Avs tilted the ice and scoring effects started to show. At 4:05, Kobasew took offense to a hit from friend of the blog Cal Clutterbuck, who actually dropped em with Kobasew for once! What!? Kobasew took an extra minor for roughing, which was because of either getting hit or hugging before the fight, or because the ref wanted to call an instigator without giving out 17 minutes so he just made something up. Avs killed the penalty. At 6:43, Erik Johnson intentionally shot wide, bounding the puck out into the slot, where Parenteau banged home his second of the night, cutting the Wild lead to 1.

The Avs kept pushing, but couldn't generate another scoring chance. Minnesota fought back, eventually getting a couple of extended offensive shifts. Landeskog saved a goal by tying up Pierre-Marc Bouchard, then dove in the way of another PMB shot. Workin hard, doin work. The second half of the third would remain back and forth. Backstrom made a HUGE save on O'Reilly to keep the Wild ahead with 1:42 left. Colorado emptied the net 20 seconds later. After a Wild icing and Avalanche timeout, Minnesota would win the draw, move the puck up the ice to Koivu, and put the empty-net dagger in to win, 5-3.

Top 3 Avs of the Night

  • P.A. Parenteau (2 goals)
  • Gabe Landeskog (goal, looked much better tonight)
  • Seth Jones, in the future

Lines

  • McGinn - Duchene - Parenteau
  • Landeskog/Mitchell - Stastny - Hejduk
  • Mitchell/Landeskog - O'Reilly - Jones
  • McLeod - Kobasew - Bordeleau

  • Zanon - Johnson
  • Wilson - Hunwick
  • Hejda - O'Brien

Scratches: Olver, O'Byrne, Palushaj

    Quick Hits

    • The officiating in this game was hilariously touchy. Apart from Rupp's retaliatory penalty, most of the calls were of the "soft" variety, and even that one isn't usually called.
    • Tyson Barrie hasn't been called back up yet for what I'm sure is a good reason. Zanon was bad, Wilson was worse.
    • The Avs have given up 30+ shots in 7 of their last 8 games, according to Dater.
    • Once again the team was outstanding from the faceoff circle. Duchene 62%, O'Reilly 65%, Stastny 58%. Except, unfortunately, for the biggest one.

    Next Up

    The Avs take a mulligan with a matinee rematch in Denver on Saturday.

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