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Avalanche unable to tame Wild, lose 3-2 on second leg of back-to-back

Lack of secondary scoring continues to be an issue as the Avs drop one on the road

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of a high intensity, high scoring win over the Ottawa Senators, the Colorado Avalanche failed to beat their rival Minnesota Wild on Saturday night, eventually losing 3-2. Despite the scoresheet, Semyon Varlamov was Colorado’s best player tonight, allowing just one even-strength goal on 18 shots, 8 for 9 on the power play. A “lucky” (it takes a lot of skill to rifle the puck 200ft into a 4x6 rectangle) empty net goal cost the Varlamov and the Avs a chance at victory. Well, I’d say the black hole that is the Avalanche offense outside of the MacKinnon line had a bit more to do with it, but we’ll stick to the first one.

Unfortunately, on the second half of a back-to-back, Colorado just couldn’t match even the slow pace with the Wild.

First Period

Not long at all after puck drop, the Mild...*AHEM*. Sorry. The Wild would take an early too many men on the ice penalty, served by Nino Niederreiter. The Avalanche looked to continue their run and gun pace from last night’s game, where they outscored the Senators 5-0 in the last 20-something minutes of the game. The ensuing power play didn’t amount to much, but the Avalanche were passing well, moving well, and controlling the pace of the play.

Minutes after the power play ended, Patrik Nemeth replacement Mark Barberio sniped Devan Dubnyk’s five-hole for his first point of the season. Vladislav Kamenev nabbed himself an assist on the play, earning him the first point of his young career.

Barberio went on to make a few really good plays on both ends of the ice which may earn him Nemeth’s spot in the lineup, though the jury is still out on that.

Shortly after, Nikita Zadorov gets sent to the box for being large (interference). From the beginning of the penalty kill to the end of the period, the momentum, which at one point in time was all Avs, had evened out as the Mild worked hard to almost even out the shot total. One more penalty a piece for both teams, the same amount of kills for each, and we ended the period with the good guys still up 1-0.

Second Period

The Mild repeat the beginning of the game and take another penalty early, this time it was Jared Spurgeon to the box for hooking. The power play was not very successful at all as the Wild spent literally the first 1:10 of the penalty in the Avs zone. Luckily, Mikko Koivu trips up an Avalanche player as the power play unit were breaking out of their own zone. As if we needed another example of how incredible Samuel Girard’s IQ is, as soon as he saw the referee’s arm go up signaling the delayed penalty, he passed the puck to a Wild player to save time on the ensuing 5-on-3. The second half of the group of penalties was much kinder to the Avs, but still no dice on the score sheet.

At about the 13 minute mark, Zadorov took a hit behind the Avalanche net and seemed to be nursing either his left arm or shoulder (the one he had surgery on over the summer). If he didn’t re-aggravate that previous injury, it may have been a slash in the first period that caused that area to be tender.

Credit to Rudo3 (@AvalancheReview) for the Streamables.

Calvert gets called for running over Zucker away from the play or an “interference penalty” if you want to get specific. Pfft. Anyway, the Avs held the Wild off for most of the penalty kill, but the Wild forwards were swarming. Varlamov gives up a rebound, Mikael Grandlund picks it up and shovels it over Varly’s shoulder and we have a 1-1 tie.

The Wild successfully continued to pressure the Avs defense, and then the good guys take kind of a weak too many men on the ice penalty, but I am in no position to argue. I’ll leave that for Twitter.

A bit of back and forth, and some rough stuff including Matt Calvert, Matt Dumba, and J.T. Brown, later and the Avalanche return to the power play. Sometime before the scrum, the Mild earn themselves a delay of game penalty by shooting the puck over the glass at 3:29. A few high danger scoring chances from PP1 but the Wild’s PK holds them off and the Avalanche are on their way to holding a big fat 0% on the power play tonight. They were 0/5 so far this game, including that 5-on-3 from earlier.

Third Period

Starting this period possibly down a defender, the Avs hold off the Wild, despite a flurry of scoring chances and shot that rings off the post. Zadorov finds his way back onto the ice after only earning about 3:00 TOI in the second period. Was his injury just a stinger? Is he playing hurt? Find out next time on Dragon Ball Z! Oh? Wrong media.

Dumba lays an absolute monster hit on Alex Kerfoot that sets the stage for a hard hitting, physical shift that ends in an Avalanche penalty. As newly acquired Marko Dano tries to head off into the bench, he is hit away from the play. Zadorov does what Zadorov does, not necessarily checks the guy, but kind of skates into him to make the hit looks accidental. Z somehow gets called for high sticking and it doesn’t take long for the Wild, who are playing an incredible game, to capitalize. Girard accidentally deflects an Eric Staal shot in behind Varlamov and the Mild take a 2-1 lead.

The Avs definitely looked like they were feeling the back-to-back exhaustion as it looked like they just didn’t have anything left in the tank. Matthew Dumba takes a dumb penalty with 2:49 remaining as he mugs Calvert from behind as he breaks into the Wild zone. Varlamov starts the power play on the bench for the extra attacker. Gabriel Landeskog loses the faceoff, Jonas Brodin recovers the puck, launches it down the ice and promptly scores a nearly 200ft goal into the empty net. The offense can’t get it done with 2:00 of 6-on-4 time. Just after the power play ends, Landeskog grinds out a goal in front of the net and he cuts the lead to one. Mikko Rantanen picks up his 16th assist of the season.

With 30 seconds left, the Avs just couldn’t tie it up and the Wild continue to be undefeated in regulation at home.

FINAL: 3-2 Wild

What We Learned

  • You can’t go 0/6 on the PP, including a 5-on-3 and a full 2 minutes of 6-on-4, and expect to win the game. It’s as simple as that. It’s not the refs fault, it was that oh-for the Avs threw up.
  • I know you all are probably tired of hearing it, but we have a real problem on their hands when it comes to secondary scoring. There is a huge void in offense after the MacKinnon line and there is no immediate solution in sight.
  • The injury bug is slowly starting to creep through the Avs lineup. JT Compher (head), Jost (head), and now possibly Zadorov (arm), even though he returned to play the rest of the game.

What’s Next

The Avalanche have the next four days off to hopefully get healthy and rested before they head to Calgary to take on Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames on Thursday, November 1st. See you there!