The Colorado Avalanche have now won their fourth straight game after a 3 - 2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The only action filled period was in the second as all five goals were scored. Pavel Francouz made thirty four stops for a well earned win by the rookie goalie, nothing new for the Wild, goaltending has been a serious issue all season as they are still in the basement with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division.
It wouldn't take long for the Avalanche to get a flurry of shots on goal, star rookie, Cale Makar stopped not once but twice by Devin Dubnyk. Mikko Rantanen was called for high-sticking on Joel Eriksson Ek the Wild only mustered two shots on the power play, this made it a dull power play. Greg Pateryn was called for hooking but Dubnyk and the league's worst penalty kill did the job not even allowing a shot on goal. Both goalies would continue to trade game changing saves, Francouz denied Kevin Fiala on a breakaway with the glove and Dubnyk made a save on Erik Johnson from the blueline. Eric Staal was called for tripping, Dubnyk continued to play strong as he stopped Rantanen twice to end the first period.
Just 0:42 seconds into the second, Nazem Kadri was called for hooking, this would not slow down the Avalanche, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare took a wrist shot that bounced off of Dubnyk’s pad and in for the short hander, Matt Calvert and Ryan Graves with the assists. The Wild would get their revenge on Kadri as Erickson Ek and Mikko Koivu delivered hits on him, moments later, Joonas Donskoi was called for tripping and the Wild would not waste time to score. In just 0:09 seconds, Fiala found Zach Parise who made the cross creaser to Jared Spurgeon for the power play goal to tie the game at one. After the goal, the Avalanche would not leave the Wild zone as Dubnyk halted Tyson Jost and Bellemare twice. Spurgeon was called for hooking, this time a power play goal for the Avalanche, Nathan MacKinnon hit his thirty second goal of the year to make it 2 - 1, Kadri and Makar with the assists. With this assist, Makar has passed Quinn Hughes from the Vancouver Canucks for most points by a rookie defensemen this season. Francouz made stops on Parise and Staal before Gabriel Landeskog went the other way to score the third goal for the Avalanche, the bouncing puck landed right in front of Landeskog for the one timer, Ian Cole and J.T. Compher credited with the assist. Another tripping penalty for the Avalanche as Kadri skated to the box, the Wild refused to quit as Fiala faked the shot, went around Matt Nieto to score a smooth wrist shot cutting the Avalanche lead to one, Staal and Spurgeon who picked up his second point of the game got credited with the assists.
A good chunk of the third would start with your routine saves, hits and blocked shots before Calvert and Luke Kunin decided it was the time to scrap. This period was a yawner as Marcus Foligno, Ryan Suter and Fiala twice made basic shots on Francouz who sealed the win for the Avalanche. The Avalanche finished their road trip with a 4 - 1 - 0 record and remain second in the Central Division, 3 points behind St. Louis Blues, no wonder why they are one of the cup favorites coming out of the Western Conference. Their first line with MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen continues to be the one of the league's most underrated first lines, talk about the Blues, Bruins, Capitals and Penguins all you want, if Francouz and Phillipp Grubauer continue to stay healthy and play hot between the pipes, a top two seed in the Western Conference is an achievable goal. This is one of the many games the Wild could have had chances of coming away with a win but couldn't pull it out at the end, despite the decent outing by Dubnyk, he needs to find a way to turn the clock back as he now holds a record of 10 - 14 - 2 on the season. WOW! The Wild have traded Left Winger, Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Center, Alex Galchenyuk, prospect Defenseman, Calen Addison and a 2020 1st round pick. Perhaps a prospect goalie should be considered for the Wild before the trade deadline of February 24th?