3 Takeaways from Avalanche’s 4-3 Shootout Win Over Wild

A wild afternoon game at Ball Arena ended with the Colorado Avalanche coming out on top, beating the Minnesota Wild 4-3 after a shootout. The game felt like a playoff battle, the two points were important, and as the season progresses, don’t be surprised to see these two have further contests like this one.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the first period it could have been a far easier night for the Avalanche, but their inability to close out games continues to haunt them. Mikko Rantanen eventually scored the winning penalty shot, along with the first goal of the game, while others on the night came from Alex Newhook and Nathan MacKinnon.

More on that below as we head into our three takeaways from the victory.

Avalanche Need to Work on Game Management and Closure

We’ll start with the negative, because this could have been a far easier game for the team had it taken its chances in the game. The Avs went up 2-0 in the first period, but even at 2-0 the team had many chances to put the puck in the back of the net, and didn’t convert.

We are talking about one of the best teams in the NHL, they are going to find themselves in a winning position on quite a number of occasions. They have to be better in this position, it is fine getting there, but the Avalanche have to then cement their position and put the game to bed.

Even after the first period, when the Avalanche held a two-goal lead, my thoughts were about the Wild getting back into the game. They did, and it was no surprise. Hot starts are only good if the team follows them up and buries the opposition. It’s fine doing that against the Arizona Coyotes, as we saw on Saturday night when the Avalanche won 5-0, but you also have to do it against the more competitive teams, too.

Kurtis MacDermid Does His Job

We can sit and argue about whether the Avs should be having a player like Kurtis MacDermid on the roster, and what he brings, but there is no doubt that he did his job tonight. The Avalanche were lucky, MacDermid was on the ice when Wild forward Jordan Greenway hit netminder Darcy Kuemper in the head.

There was no hesitation though from MacDermid at all. He knew what he had to do, he dropped the gloves and sent a message to Greenway, the Wild and the rest of the NHL. Over the past couple of years, we would have seen either no one or Gabriel Landeskog respond to that incident. Yes, everyone would have felt pleased Landeskog did something, but in no way would he have been able to send a message like MacDermid did.

Kurtis MacDermid Colorado Avalanche
Kurtis MacDermid, Colorado Avalanche (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

These incidents are exactly why the Avalanche traded a fourth-round pick for him from Seattle, and while we can argue about whether he should be on the team or not, no one can say he didn’t do his job here.

If there is one thing to say about MacDermid, he needs to be playing as a forward, as the Avalanche can’t keep carrying him as a defenseman if he is only going to play a very limited role.

The Avalanche Have Back Up Goaltending Again

It’s been a long time since we’ve said that. The Avalanche appear to have finally got over their problems in goal behind their starter. Pavel Francouz has seen his career come to a halt due to injuries, but finally he’s healthy, and answering the questions asked of him and proving his worth.

In the last 10 days, Francouz has played in parts of four games. He’s started twice, come in after seeing Kuemper pulled against Toronto, and came in after Kuemper was injured in this game. All four games have resulted in wins for the team.

Jonas Johansson, Hunter Miska, Adam Werner, Devan Dubnyk and Justus Annunen are the main names that have seen this team try while Francouz was out injured. No one delivered, and it is certainly good to see Frankie back with the team and showing the level of form fans are seeing from him right now.

Of course, with Kuemper taken out of the game due to a concussion, there are worries that Francouz will be needed a little more pretty soon. Many like the idea of the Avalanche trading for a goalie, with Marc-Andre Fleury a possibility. However, the bigger picture, and Francouz taking the backup job back, is certainly a big positive for this team, and he has jumped back into the role as though he has never been away.

What’s Next?

For fans, all eyes will be on the updates regarding Darcy Kuemper and how he is over the next few days. Next up for the Avs, they head to California and face a back to back on Wednesday and Thursday night, with the Anaheim Ducks up first, followed by the LA Kings.

Of course, should Kuemper miss time, the Avalanche are going to have to decide which netminder they are going to use in one of those, unless they give Francouz the start in both.

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