The Minnesota Wild hosted the Colorado Avalanche in their fourth and final meeting this season, looking to avenge a pair of losses they suffered in Denver - giving up seven goals in each.
The Avalanche must have felt right at home, though, as they defeated the Wild 5-1 on the final meet-up Tuesday night.
The intensity was felt in this contest early, but the Wild had the advantage in shots - including a power play to their credit. It would, however, be the Avalanche who would get on the board first at 16:23m with a nice drive to the net by JT Compher and tough angle shot that got by Devan Dubnyk.
The second period was mostly a back and forth affair and the teams traded four on four goals scored 59 seconds a part. Mikko Koivu marked for the Wild at 13:56 and Nikita Zadorov answered back with a great punch and shot off the post at 14:55 to restore the one goal lead for the Avalanche.
Nathan MacKinnon set the tone for the third period when he took it to the house just 11 seconds into the period and showed on national television why he should be in consideration for the Hart trophy.
From there the Avalanche would hold on to the lead through several penalty kills and Wild hitting the post. When they finally got their own power play chances Compher again found the back of the net on a great rebound shot from his knees at 13:26. Tyson Jost would net the dagger at 18:39 on another power play and rebound tally.
This game was the next step for the Avalanche in several ways. It was their first road victory in regulation against a playoff team since their win against Toronto during the ten game win streak in January. The only other team they beat on the road since then was only Buffalo in regulation and Vancouver and Edmonton in the extra frame. The Avalanche will need to win several more big games on the road in order to secure a playoff spot but this one was a good start.
Although the power play is frustrating at times, the Avalanche extended their streak to eight straight games with a power play goal. What is even more impressive is that the second power play unit finally converted for the first time since mid January on the second Compher goal. If the Avalanche can get their secondary scoring rolling then they will be much more dangerous down the stretch.
Eleven different players ended up with a point in this contest including from five different defenseman. It was Sven Andrighetto's first point since returning from his several month long absence as well. With Erik Johnson returning possibly soon and maybe even Vladislav Kamenev the Avalanche are getting healthy and depth back at the right time. It's going to be an exciting final few weeks of the season.
The Avalanche continue their road swing with a stop in St.Louis to take on the Blues in another critical central division match at 6pm MT on Thursday, March 15th.