3 Takeaways From the Avalanche’s 8-3 Loss to the Wild

The Minnesota Wild gave the Colorado Avalanche a taste of the medicine the Avs had been feeding the West Division for most of March.

The Wild shelled the Avalanche for an 8-3 win on Wednesday, tying a franchise record for goals in a game. The loss snapped Colorado’s six-game winning streak – and 15-game point streak – in devastating fashion. Kevin Fiala notched his first career hat trick, and rookie sensation Kirill Kaprizov added two goals for Minnesota in the rout.

Here’s three takeaways from Colorado’s worst loss of the season:

Grubauer Struggles Against Minnesota

The Wild were flying early, but Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer had his worst night of the season.

The Vezina Trophy contender never got into a groove and was pulled early in the third period after giving up seven goals on just 18 shots. His .611 save percentage (SV%) was the worst of his career.

The Wild haven’t been kind to Grubauer this season. He’s given up four or more goals just five times on the year, and three of those have come at the hands of Minnesota. His .885 SV% and 2.81 goals-against average are easily the worst against any of the West Division teams this season.

Nick Bonino Minnesota Wild Philipp Grubauer Colorado Avalanche
Nick Bonino, Minnesota Wild and Philipp Grubauer, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The rout started early on Wednesday. Minnesota scored on its third shot of the game, as Kaprizov netted his first goal of the contest on the Wild’s third shot of the game.

By the time the first period ended, the Avalanche trailed 3-0 and had just four shots on goal. Things turned around in the second for Colorado, but Grubauer let them down. The Avalanche scored three goals on 14 shots in the second, but Grubauer gave up two goals on four shots – including Kaprizov’s 16th of the season – to give Minnesota a 5-3 lead after two periods.

The hook came quickly in the third. Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek scored less than three minutes apart, and Grubauer was yanked with roughly 13 minutes to play. Fiala completed the hat trick just 38 seconds after Grubauer left.

The last two games have been brutal for Grubauer. He has allowed 11 goals on 43 shots (.744 SV%) but was bailed out for a 5-4 win in overtime on April 5.

Burakovsky Heating Up After Rough March

The silver linings were hard to find on Wednesday, but one that is starting to glimmer is Andre Burakovsky.

The winger netted his 11th goal of the season on Wednesday, cleaning up a rebound from a Jacob MacDonald shot in the second period. The goal was Burakovsky’s sixth point in the last five games, and half of those are goals. He had a goal and an assist in the 5-4 win on Monday, and a pair of goals in the 9-3 trouncing of the Arizona Coyotes on March 31.

Andre Burakovsky Colorado Avalanche
Andre Burakovsky, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The veteran has been streaky throughout his career, and this looks like one of his upswings. Before the current stretch of six points over the last five games, Burakovsky had just a lone assist in the previous seven games.

Burakovsky accounted for five goals and five assists in the entire month of March, with two of those goals coming on the last day of the month in the win over Arizona.

Wild Solve Avs Penalty Kill

Colorado came into Wednesday’s game with the second-best penalty kill in the NHL. The Wild didn’t care about any of that.

Minnesota racked up four power-play goals on five tries, dropping the Avs from second to sixth in the rankings. Victor Rask assisted on three of the power-play goals, and both of Kaprizov’s goals came with the man advantage.

That gave the Wild six power-play goals against Colorado in the last two games. The Avalanche allowed just eight power-play goals in the entire month of March.

Colorado hadn’t allowed more than two power-play goals in a single game all season, and the four by the Wild on Wednesday were the most allowed by the Avs in a game since they conceded four in a 6-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on November 14, 2019.

The Avalanche are set to return to action with a pair of road games against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and Sunday. Those are the final two games of the season against Anaheim.

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