This was not the same Minnesota Wild team the Colorado Avalanche took five points from in three games at the end of January.
The Wild racked up six goals – the most Colorado has given up in a single game all season – from five different players and continued their sizzling play by hammering the Avalanche 6-2 on Wednesday. It was the first time this season Colorado has lost back-to-back games.
Nazem Kadri and J.T. Compher scored for the Avalanche, which outshot the Wild 31-25, but it was a struggle all night. Minnesota’s line of Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello and Victor Rask accounted for a goal and four assists, and now have 19 points in Minnesota’s last three games.
An odd second period set the tone for Minnesota. The Wild scored two goals in the second, despite getting only five shots on goal. Minnesota didn’t get a shot on goal until there were eight minutes left in the period. The drought didn’t matter, as Zach Parise scored on a deflection on Minnesota’s second shot of the period just 31 seconds later. It was the 800th career point for Parise.
Marcus Foligno scored a shorthanded goal less than three minutes later, and Minnesota took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. Three more goals in the third, including two from Marco Sturm, put the game to bed and pushed Minnesota past Colorado in the West Division standings.
Through the first 14 games of the season, Colorado hadn’t allowed a three-goal period. The Avalanche have now conceded three goals in a period in each of their last two games.
Compher Kicks Scoring Skid
One of the only offensive bright spots came from an unlikely source on Wednesday. Compher had been struggling all season, but got the Avalanche on the board in the second period with his second goal of the season.
Compher had his ice time diminished recently, but was planted between Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin on the third line Wednesday. The goal came on a rush pushed by defensemen Samuel Girard and Devon Toews, and was finished deftly by Compher.
The goal was Compher’s first since Jan. 30, when he cracked in a power-play goal in a 5-1 win over the Wild. Wednesday’s goal was his first even-strength point of the campaign, as well. He hadn’t registered a point in the last six games.
For Colorado to be considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, they’re going to need depth scoring from players like Compher. Wednesday night’s contest was one of his best games of the season, and maybe getting paired with Burakovsky and Nichushkin will get all three of them going. They were easily the most consistent line on Wednesday.
That combination was the sixth different line combo Compher has played with this season. Burakovsky and Nichushkin could also use a boost. Burakovsky hasn’t scored a point in seven straight contests, and Nichushkin has just one point in his last nine games.
Brandon Saad was out with his wife expecting a child, and they missed his presence.
Avs Power Play Gets Back on Track…Sort Of
Early in the season, special teams had been a calling card for the Avalanche, but not so much lately.
Colorado managed to score a power-play goal on Wednesday, getting a one-timer from Kadri that trimmed the Minnesota lead to 3-2 early in the third period. It wound up being academic, but maybe it could get the power play rolling again.
Since the 12-day hiatus due to COVID protocol, the Avalanche haven’t scored a power-play goal, going 0-for-12 over the four games entering Wednesday’s contest. Minnesota’s third goal was a short-handed tally by Marcus Foligno, meaning the Avalanche have given up as many goals when on the power-play as they’ve scored in the last five games.
The power-play goal snapped a long streak. Colorado hadn’t scored in the previous 20 chances with the man advantage before Kadri’s one-timer off a Mikko Rantanen pass.
Cale Makar also assisted on Kadri’s power-play goal, giving the defenseman 50 assists in his career. Makar reached the milestone in his 71st career game, making him the fifth-fastest defenseman to achieve it.
The power-play had been in the top five of the NHL early in the season, but the recent slump has dropped Colorado to 12th in the league at 23.1 percent.
The Avalanche get a day off before heading to play back-to-back games at the Arizona Coyotes on Friday and Saturday.
Lifelong storyteller and experienced hockey reporter that has covered everything from major juniors to the NHL. Worked for various newspapers across Minnesota and North Dakota, and now covering the Colorado Avalanche for THW.