Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 5-4 win against the Avalanche.
Adversity is being down three goals in the third period on the road to begin the season, and resiliency is scoring four goals in a span of 5:07 to erase that deficit and take the lead.
The Wild began the third period trailing 4-1, and walked out of Colorado with a 5-4 victory in comeback-fashion.
"Good teams find a way to get to their game," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "We weren't incredibly far off, but we needed to dial it in a lot more, and we just made sure that we understood there was still a game that could be won here if we got to our game."
Minnesota fell behind 3-0 through 20 minutes. The first half of the first period was played very evenly, and Zach Parise came a post away on a breakaway from making it 1-0 Wild.
After that near-score, the Wild took two penalties, and Colorado converted on each opportunity. Hockey is a game of momentum, and Parise came within inches of opening the scoring.
Minnesota out-attempted Colorado at even-strength in the first period, 28-20, but was felled by the two power plays. The Wild deserved better after 20 minutes, and then went ahead and took the game and the win in the third.
A loss to open the regular season in an 82-ame schedule wouldn't have been a death sentence, but instead the Wild turned its opener into a game to be proud of to start the season.
“It’s the first game. Most importantly, I think we have to learn from that,” Mikko Koivu said. “We can’t go down three goals against a good team like that. It’s not going to happen often that we come back. It was a good effort from the whole team.”
The four goals scored over that 5:07 span in the third period were the fastest four goals ever scored in franchise history.
In those times of adversity, you look toward your leaders to dig you out of tough spots, and Parise did just that with a banner night.
His first goal was s scored on a wrist shot after having earlier hit that post. He went back to his bread and butter with no hesitation. Goal number two came after Parise took a big open-ice check earlier in the shift, popped up to his feet, and went to the front of net.
"What can you say?" Yeo said. "That's what we've come to know with Zach. We use the word relentless an awful lot, and that was a good example of that."
The hat trick goal—fittingly the game-winning goal—, which was met by some hats on the ice in the visiting Pepsi Center, was a seed from the right circle on the power play. The puck movement during the sequence that led up to that goal was consistent with the power play success Minnesota had in the preseason.
“We moved it around really well, right from the break-in getting it in,” Parise said. “That's how we've been practicing it, and the more we do it, the better we're going to get at knowing where each other are. That's kind of what made that goal happened: We know where the other guy is going to be right now.”
Parise helped will the Wild back into the game, and all the way to two points. The hat trick was his first as a member of the Wild.
With his two assists, Ryan Suter recorded career assist number 300.
It was a tough start defensively for Minnesota, but the Wild settled down, and the defensemen certainly made a huge difference during the final 20 minutes of the comeback.
“Something clicked and we started playing our game,” Suter said.
On recording his 300th assist: “It's part of it, and it was fun.”
At the time, it may have seemed inconsequential in a 4-1 game, but Devan Dubnyk made a save on Alex Tanguay with about 6:30 remaining in the second period to keep the Wild's deficit at three.
At the tail end of a shift, Colorado managed to get a 3-on-2 rush up ice, and Tanguay found space by himself in the circle. His one-time shot looked labeled for the bottom corner, but Dubnyk lunged across his crease with the left pad and just got a piece. Those are the kinds of saves—timely saves—that Dubnyk came up with on so many occasions last season.
“You need saves,” Yeo said. “For sure we have to find a way we're not giving up four a night; that's not our game. We'll use this game to make sure we're better the next game.”
The Avalanche were all over shooting lanes, either getting in front of shots, or making the Wild think twice about getting rid of the puck.
In the first period, Colorado blocked 10 of the 28 shots Minnesota attempted. In the second period, 13 of 36 attempts hit players in burgundy sweaters. The Wild wasn't without the puck, and created plenty of zone time, but after 40 minutes, Colorado had put up a roadblock between Wild shooters and Varlamov.
The Wild was patient though, and adjusted in the third, holding the puck longer at times to create shooting lanes, or being creative inside the blue line to create more space. It was a chess move that paid major dividends as Minnesota finally cracked the Avalanche's compact defensive scheme.
"We were just trying to shoot pucks to the sides of them trying to get it behind them because they come out so aggressive," Suter said. "They're a very aggressive team, they've got some physical guys, and we just weren't thinking early."