The Wild rallied late in the third period again Saturday and defeated Avalanche 2-1 in a shootout.
When the teams met Nov. 30, the Wild scored twice in the final 3:27 of regulation to wipe out a 2-0 deficit before falling 3-2 in a shootout. Mikko Koivu scored the tying goal with 4.3 seconds left in that game.
This time, both Wild shooters, Koivu and Zach Parise, scored against Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov in the tiebreaker. Goalie Josh Harding stopped the Avalanche's final two shooters, PA Parenteau and Ryan O'Reilly after Matt Duchene led off with a goal.
"It's part of the game, what are you going to do?" Harding said of shootouts. "It's all about your mindset. It's a huge two points, and it's a huge win on the road. I felt good. With the way our D-men and forwards play defensively, if I can be solid and give our team a chance to win, they usually come through with it."
Koivu wasn't about to divulge any strategy he might have after scoring the decisive goal.
"I'm not going to tell you what I wanted to do because every time we go against these guys we're in a shootout," he said. "You want to get it up. Last time he stopped it."
Despite the loss, the Avalanche picked up a point and held onto third place in the Central Division with a 21-9-1 record and 43 points. The Wild have a 19-11-5 record and 43 points, and have played four more games.
The Wild tied the game 1-1 with 3:53 remaining in the third period on Nino Niederreiter's sixth goal of the season. The Wild prevented the Avalanche from clearing the zone and Jason Pominville passed to Ryan Suter, who walked in untouched to the left point. He fired a wrist shot through traffic that Niederreiter tipped behind Varlamov.
"It was a great shot [by Suter] and I think we were all battling in front of the net and I was lucky to have a chance to tip the puck and it went in," Niederreiter said.
The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead at 10:48 of the second period on a goal by Maxime Talbot. John Mitchell was in the right circle when he passed to defenseman Cory Sarich just inside the blue line. Sarich took a shot from there and the puck bounced off Talbot's skate behind Harding.
"It was similar to the last time we were here," Parise said. "Got one late to tie it up and fortunately this time we were able to win it. We played three really tough games to end on a good note. It's a tight-checking game. There's a lot more we can do to create offense, be a little more aggressive."
The loss was the first for the Avalanche in 18 games when they score first and their first in six games that have gone past regulation.
"It was two fluky goals," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "We missed the net on ours, it hit a skate and went in and they had the same thing, a tip in front of the net. They were not pretty goals, but at the same time it's part of the game.
"It's too bad because we didn't give them much and coming at the end of the game is when they scored that goal. They were resilient and Minnesota deserves a lot of credit for it."
Each goalie stopped 26 shots through regulation and overtime.
"It's tough, I thought we played a really good hockey game," Duchene said. "I think we dictated most of the game, but give them some credit. Their goalie played outstanding, they are an extremely stingy defensive team. They try and play to those 1-0 games and it's disappointing to not come out with two points, but I think there's a lot of good things. You know, we've been a little snakebit around the net but their goalie played outstanding as well."
Both teams have had problems scoring in recent weeks, a trend that continued Saturday.
Not counting goals awarded in two shootouts, the Avalanche have 18 goals in the past 10 games. The Wild have scored 16 times in their past 11 games and have been shut out twice.
"Sometimes you hit those streaks where you don't get that offense as much," Koivu said. "A lot of times that happens on the road. Obviously we played some good teams. Tonight one goal and the shootout got us the win. We just have to stick with it."
The Avalanche failed to capitalize on two power plays, running their drought with the man advantage to 0-for-26 in a 10-game stretch.
"Obviously I would like to see our power play scoring goals," Roy said. "We had a couple good chances, but there's nothing to show for that. We're going to have to bear down on our chances on the power play. It's time for the power play to click, there's no doubt about it."
The Wild managed three shots on a third-period power play but couldn't convert. They are 1-for-11 in their past five games.
|Jonas Brodin Interference against Ryan O'Reilly|
|Nino Niederreiter Hooking against John Mitchell|
|Nathan MacKinnon Holding against Mikko Koivu|