Wild rally, beat Avalanche in shootout
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota and Colorado, in their first meeting of the season, looked like the bitter division rivals they are, battling in both ends of the rink with the Wild prevailing 3-2 in a shootout on Friday.
Charlie Coyle and Chris Stewart scored the only goals of the shootout for the Wild, who came from behind to win their second game in a row and improve to 6-1-1 in their last eight.
The Wild (11-8-3) got an early goal from Jason Zucker and a power-play goal from Nino Niederreiter, along with 28 saves from Alex Stalock in the win. He stopped attempts by Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen in the shootout.
“We’re trying. Every game we’ve played I think this year has been a nail-biter,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I don’t think there’s been one way that we’ve been blown out or one way that we’ve blown another team out. So I guess that’s what we have. So if we’re not competing, we’re going to struggle. The more we compete, we’re in every game.”
J.T. Compher and Blake Comeau scored in the first period for Colorado (11-8-2), which got 25 saves from Jonathan Bernier but saw a two-game winning streak snapped.
Minnesota needed just 73 seconds and one shot on goal to end Bernier’s bid for a second consecutive shutout. Eric Staal zipped a pass from behind the net to Zucker between the circles, and Zucker’s wrist shot beat the goalie on the glove side. It was Zucker’s ninth goal in Minnesota’s last nine games and his team-leading 12th of the season.
Colorado tied the game on a shorthanded goal by Compher, after Gabriel Landeskog pushed the puck out of the zone and a defensive turnover by the Wild created a breakaway. Compher’s shot to the stick side beat Stalock. Compher has three goals this season and two of them have come with the Avs shorthanded.
“I liked our energy tonight, I liked our compete level. Our execution wasn’t fantastic,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar. “We had a couple good chances on the third period to take the lead, win the hockey game and we didn’t score on them, and then they had a couple in overtime that they could have won the game on and then you get to the shootout and it’s kind of flip a coin, you never know what’s going to happen exactly in a shootout.”
Comeau gave Colorado a 2-1 lead late in the first, capping a 2-on-1 rush with Matt Nieto by finding a tiny gap between Stalock’s glove and the right post. But Niederreiter re-tied the game on a power play early in the second. It was the sixth consecutive game with a goal for Niederreiter, tying a Minnesota franchise record.
“As a goalie that makes it to the NHL, you’ve given up a lot of goals in your life along the way. You just have to say that’s another one and turn the page,” said Stalock, who got his first home win of the season and is now 2-2-1 in five starts. “We came in here down 2-1 and kind of settled things down and turned the page for me and made the saves I needed to make.”
Compher nearly got his second breakaway goal of the game midway through the third, but Stalock knocked down a snap shot with his glove, and Compher fanned on the rebound. Colorado had a pair of third-period power plays but failed to score on either. The Avs out-shot Minnesota 10-3 in the third, while Minnesota had a 6-0 shot advantage in the overtime.
“Solid road game,” said Bernier, who had blanked Dallas in his last start. “Obviously we don’t want to give them an extra point but we competed really hard, we managed to come back in the game. So I thought overall it was a really solid performance.”
NOTES: While most of the team flew to Minnesota late Thursday evening, Avalanche D Erik Johnson traveled on his own earlier in the day on Thanksgiving to spend more of the holiday with his family in the Minneapolis suburbs. ... The Wild wore their white sweaters at home on Friday for the first time this season. ... Avalanche G Seymon Varlamov did not make the trip to Minnesota. He practiced on Thursday but was scratched due to illness. Andrew Hammond served as the backup on Friday. ... The Wild battled the Avalanche in the franchise’s first-ever playoff series in 2003. Minnesota won the seven-game series in overtime in Denver with Wild F Andrew Brunette beating Colorado G Patrick Roy for the series-winner.