It took less than two minutes for the Wild to get on the board as Charlie Coyle tipped a Ryan Suter point shot past Semyon Varlamov. After looking good to start the game, the goal put the Avalanche on their heels for a bit, looking out of sync and unsure of themselves.
After a strong shift in the defensive zone by Ryan Wilson and Brad Stuart, the boys in burgundy settled down and got back to their game. One of the best moments of the first ten minutes of the period came when Nathan MacKinnon dominated puck possession in the offensive zone for a solid ten to fifteen seconds, showing off that new strength. Such impressive talent. The shift ended in a penalty against the Wild, and the Avs got their first power play of the night. While it didn't net a goal, it did look a helluva lot better than opening night and brought the Avs to a 7 to 5 shot advantage.
After Erik Johnson landed a whopper of a hit, the refs tagged him on a fairly weak holding penalty, putting Minny up a man for two minutes. The Avs were quite aggressive on the PK, but the enemy put a ton of pressure on the boys to the tune of eight shots on net. Superb defense by the penalty killers and ninja spiderness by Varly kept the Wild off the board. The period wound down with the Wild still leading 1-0.
Avalanche started out the second period on the wrong foot with Matt Duchene called for slashing. Another weak one, so it's clear the refs are calling things tight to start the season. Just as the penalty was winding down, Johnson went high and cheap with an elbow, automatically earning the game ejection and five minute major because of the new rules this season.
Thomas Vanek gave the Avs a bit of a break by taking an interference penalty a minute in on the five minute major. Two minutes of four on four began. Colorado came out super aggressive and generated some exiting moments early on. The energy carried on, leading to some dangerous short-handed chances that Darcy Kuemper expertly denied. Minny kept the pressure up for the remainder of the power play, so much so that a goal was waved off after Nino Niederreiter fell on top of Varly. That led to fisticuffs light between Nino and Landy, putting the teams each down a man. It's really too bad that the Avs can't play four-on-four all game cuz they do that pretty well.
Shortly after it went back to even strength, an odd-man break set the Wild up for a Jason Zucker rocket from the blueline which banged off the crossbar and behind Varlamov. Wild led 2-0 with 7:49 left in the second.
Ryan Carter held up Marc-Andre Cliche with a hook behind the net and put the Avs on the power play with 6:12 to go.The best chance of the two minutes came off of Matt Cooke's stick on a short-handed bid that struck the post, though Colorado did manage to get a couple of shots on net one of which came from Alex Tanguay, who also hit iron. Even though the power play didn't produce a goal, it did givve the Avs some energy and prompted a five-minute domination. The physicality of the Avalanche was refreshing and exciting to watch. Unfortunately, it didn't put points on the board, and the second ended with Minnesota up 2-0.
The Avs came out in the third on a mission, but they couldn't convert. An errant clearing attempt sent Tyson Barrie to the box for delay of game, giving the Wild the chance to put the game away for good. Colorado had done a fantastic job killing the penalty, but with two seconds left, Gabriel Landeskog suffered the same fate (even though it actually hit Vanek before going over the glass), giving Minny another two minutes with the man advantage. While it saw a couple of shots on net, the Avs held strong, and the score remained 2-0.
Matching penalties gave the teams another four-on-four situation with Daniel Briere heading to the box for holding and Kyle Brodziak from Minny going for hooking. As before, the match up favored the Avs, but neither team scored. After all the penalties, the Avalanche still faced a two-goal deficit with only five minutes left.
Patrick Roy pulled Varly with three minutes to go, and in a frenzy of trying to get that empty net goal, Cooke took an untimely penalty. Unfortunately, the Avalanche weren't able to capitalize on what was a two-man advantage, and Zach Parise finished off the Avs with a hard-fought empty netter with three seconds left on the clock. Final score was 3-0 Wild, with the Avalanche still looking for that first goal of the season.
McGinn - Duchene - Iginla
Landeskog - O'Reilly - Everberg
Tanguay - Briere - MacKinnon
McLeod - Cliche - Talbot
Holden - Johnson
Hejda - Barrie
Wilson - Stuart
MHH Three Stars
1. Tyson Barrie - awesome in all three zones
2. Semyon Varlamov - could've been much uglier without him
3. Nick Holden - who knew he could PK like that?
Monday, October 13 @ Boston Bruins (1:00 pm ET/ 11:00 am MT - sorry for the error ya'll)