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Wild win as Kobasew nets three

by Brian Hunter /
Chuck Kobasew was a 20-goal scorer in three of his past four seasons for Calgary and Boston, but this one has been a struggle for the veteran right wing.

Kobasew registered just one assist in his first seven games for the Bruins, then was traded to the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 18 and was held to a goal and two assists in his first dozen games for his new team, missing four games recently with an upper-body injury.

Friday afternoon was Kobasew’s time to break out, though, as the former first-round pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft netted the hat trick for the Wild in a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center.

''It's nice to contribute. You want to be a part of it, especially offensively,'' said Kobasew, whose only other hat trick also came against Colorado, on Jan. 24, 2006.

Andrew Brunette’s power-play goal with 8:58 left put the Wild in front to stay and Kobasew finished off the three-goal effort by putting the puck into an empty net with 17.9 seconds remaining.

''He had a couple of other opportunities almost from the same area of the ice, in the middle. He just wasn't able to get the shots off. Tonight he was rewarded with two really nice goals,'' Minnesota coach Todd Richards said.

Owen Nolan also scored and Niklas Backstrom stopped 31 shots for the Wild, which complete a home-and-home with the Avalanche on Saturday in Colorado.

''If we take it to them like they took it to us in the third, I think we come out on top,'' rookie forward Matt Duchene said.

Kyle Quincey, Paul Stastny and Chris Stewart had the goals for the Avalanche, now 1-5-4 in their last 10 trips to St. Paul.

Brunette’s ninth of the season, and sixth on the power play, came after a cross-crease pass from captain Mikko Koivu. Kobasew also scored a goal with the man advantage as the Wild matched their total output on the power play over their past five games.

After Quincey and Nolan traded goals 3:30 apart in the first period, Kobasew gave Minnesota its first lead when he beat Craig Anderson 2:48 into the second. He started the play by knocking Quincey off the puck in the right circle with a big hit that knocked the defenseman to the ice. Derek Boogaard picked it up, skated below the goal line and sent a backhand pass to Kobasew in the slot, where he scored to Anderson’s stick side.

Stastny cleaned up a Stewart rebound during a Colorado power play to tie the score at 4:41, but Marek Svatos took a hooking penalty 17 seconds later. Kobasew made the Avalanche pay at the six-minute mark, scoring from the slot off a feed by Brunette.

''I'm just trying to pick up on their tendencies and get them the puck,'' Kobasew said of Brunette and Koivu, his new linemates. ''Those guys are the skill guys and I let them make their plays and just try to find a spot where I can be open and be an option for them.''

The Wild saw that lead disappear when Stewart scored off a 2-on-1 feed from Wojtek Wolski with 2:24 left in the second.

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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