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Antti Miettinen's late goal lifts Wild past Avalanche 3-2

NHL.com @NHL

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Antti Miettinen's one-timer with 1:11 remaining off a pass from former Colorado forward Andrew Brunette sent the Minnesota Wild past the fading Avalanche, 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Roughly two minutes after Cal Clutterbuck's goal was waved off by official review when it was ruled he kicked the puck in, Miettinen pushed the winner past Andrew Raycroft to hand the Avs their fifth straight loss on the road.

Ryan Smyth scored twice, once on a power play to tie it earlier in the third period, but the earlier goals by Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Owen Nolan gave the Wild a cushion.

Bouchard has 10 points in his last six games. Nolan also notched an assist in this offensive-deficient contest, with just 48 shots on net registered between both teams.

The Avalanche, missing a slew of injured stars, badly needed a win like this to revive their confidence and retain some hope of making a push for the playoffs in the crowd of contenders in the West. Even with the conference's second-worst record when the day began, Colorado was a mere six points behind Minnesota for the final spot despite a dismal 3-0 defeat to Columbus the night before.

Nolan gave the Wild the lead with his 13th goal midway through the middle period.

Minnesota enforcer Derek Boogaard - who earlier bowled over Colorado agitator Darcy Tucker with his forearm and stood over him in brief triumph - drew consecutive penalties for hooking and cross checking after letting Tucker rile him up in the third. Finally, the Avs took advantage of the extra skater and tied the game on Smyth's second score.

After a perfect 2-on-1 pass from Nolan to Bouchard set up the game's first goal, the Avs responded - a trait they've rarely shown in recent weeks - though they had a bizarre ricochet to thank as much for that as Smyth's hustle.

Jordan Leopold, the Twin Cities native and former University of Minnesota standout who won college hockey's Hobey Baker award nearly seven years ago, sent a shot over the net that banged against the glass and neatly in front of the net. Smyth beat Kim Johnsson to the spot in this 4-on-4 situation and punched in the rebound with goalie Niklas Backstrom unable to retreat in time.

This game was ugly, and not just because of all the wide shots and wasted scoring chances.

Backstrom clipped Cody McLeod with his stick while he gloved a puck, forcing a stream of blood from McLeod's nose and drawing a four-minute penalty. Marek Svatos was called for interference 41 seconds later, wiping out a big chunk of extended power-play time, but Avalanche went 0-for-5 with the man advantage over the first two periods. Their power play is next-to-last in the league in scoring efficiency on the road.

Notes: Wild coach Jacques Lemaire was on the bench as usual, following a scary spill he took on the ice in Tuesday's practice when Miettinen accidentally knocked him over in a chase for the puck. Lemaire had X-rays on his left arm, but there was no break - only a rough night of sleep. ... Smyth, who raised his season total to 18 goals, second-most on the Avs, hadn't scored twice in a game since Oct. 20 at Los Angeles.

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