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Three Things Helped The Avs Win

by Ryan Boulding @rboulding /

ST. PAUL, Minn.--A hockey team needs three things to have success in the NHL: good goaltending, steady defense and secondary scoring.

The Colorado Avalanche got all of those things on Saturday in its 3-2 win at the Minnesota Wild.

"It means a lot. I think we've pushed hard in some of the games, especially the Dallas game, lately. We came up short, but I thought tonight we kept pushing," head coach Jared Bednar said after the match. "It didn't matter what the score was, we tried to stay with our game. I mean Minny played a great game. They had us on the ropes for a while and gave us a lot to handle, especially below the goal line in our zone and net front and their power play was real good.

"But [Calvin Pickard] made some big saves, their guys dug in and we were able to come back. To be able to get those goals in the third period and get a win I think shows the character that our guys have, and that we're starting to move in the right direction."

Video: Coach Jared Bednar on the Avs win in Minnesota

Despite falling to an early deficit, which increased to 2-0 by the end of the middle period, Colorado refused to give up. Just like in Dallas on Thursday night, the Avs continued to work hard and believed that the result was something that could be changed.

"We felt that even in the first and the second, we were giving up too many shots, and at times, too many quality shots, but we were doing some good things at the other end as well," said Bednar. "I just didn't think early in the game we were doing a good enough job of getting to the front of the net and coming up with those rebounds. And they were doing that at the other end and keeping pucks alive and keeping us hemmed in our zone a little bit.

"So we just wanted to stay with it. We kind of felt like we had a little bit of traction there to come out in the third. We were one goal better than we were in the Dallas situation. We felt like that maybe gave us a little confidence coming in that if we really got after then we might have a chance.

Another late-game comeback, this time to tie the match in the third period before getting the game-winner, proves that the Avalanche is starting to believe in itself, no matter how unlucky the team may be at the start of the game. That kind of confidence is something that could prove fruitful for the squad moving forward.

"It was big. We want to be more consistent. We had a great 40 minutes in Dallas, outshot them 36-22, and tonight we got a ton of shots," Nathan MacKinnon said. "Usually we're hemmed at 15 or fewer in this rink, so it feels good. I think we're getting rewarded for our good play. We had a really good game against L.A., a really good game against Dallas, and tonight, even after the first, I thought we played really well. We had 20 shots on net, and we fed off that."

Video: Calvin Pickard makes 41 saves over the Wild

Netminder Calvin Pickard was solid in his second win over the Wild this season, turning aside 41 shots en route to his sixth win of the season.

"He was solid, as always. We can never blame our goaltending, I feel like," Andreas Martinsen said. "He took a lot of shots, but I feel we kept them to the outside for most of them. And it makes us play with a lot of confidence too because we know he is going to stop all those shots that we're giving up, so he played a great game."

With the club's leading scorer, Matt Duchene, and point producer, Gabriel Landeskog, out with injuries, the Avalanche needed the rest of the team to pick up the slack. Led by MacKinnon, who has stepped up to fill the void in electrifying fashion, Colorado got points from all areas of the ice on Saturday.

Mikko Rantanen and MacKinnon both finished with a goal and an assist each, center Carl Soderberg picked up his third marker of the campaign when he tied the contest 2-2 in the final stanza and defensemen Tyson Barrie, Francois Beauchemin and Erik Johnson each collected helpers in the win.

Video: Andreas Martinsen on beating Minnesota

Those kinds of secondary contributions are vastly important.

"Especially now," Martinsen said. "Dutchy is out, he's our top scorer, and Gabe, he is one of our top players. The guys have to step up, and it's big. We have a lot of depth on our team. We have a lot of guys who can score, so we just have to keep going."

Colorado now has a practice day in Columbus to fine-tune what worked in Minnesota and what didn't before taking on the Blue Jackets on Monday to conclude the current three-game road swing.



While both Duchene (head) and Landeskog (lower-body) missed Saturday's tilt against Minnesota, one of the two could return to the lineup on Monday.

According to Bednar, Duchene has the potential to be back when the team takes on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"He skated and felt good today," Bednar said before the game. "He just wanted to make sure he put a couple days back-to-back where if he feels well, then he'll be in our lineup. I'm optimistic he's in next game."

As for Landeskog, there's not much to report at this time.

"Not ready yet," Colorado's coach admitted. "He's under constant evaluation. So he's going to get looked at, and we might know something more tomorrow or Monday."

Video: Nathan MacKinnon on scoring the game-winner

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