Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
The Minnesota Wild was in a no-win situation coming into Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, who are like Artax, the horse in Neverending Story
that sunk in the Swamp of Sadness. A win, and the Wild was supposed to beat a team that had won once in the past 16 games. A loss, and the Wild would be labeled as nothing more than a paper tiger.
But a win is better than a no-win situation, and the Wild got that with a third-period blitzing of the Avs in a 5-2 win. Martin Havlat, Jared Spurgeon
and Kyle Brodziak
each picked up a goal and an assist in the victory that moved the Wild into a tie for eighth with the Los Angeles Kings. As of now, the Kings hold the eighth spot because of games in hand, but the Wild holds a tiebreaker in terms of non-shootout wins (33-29), which is the primary tiebreaker at the end of the season.
“Getting one point wasn’t good enough. We needed the two points and that’s what we got,” said Todd Richards.
It was bad enough that John Madden wasn’t named the first star of the game. It was ridiculous that he wasn’t a single star of the game. In my opinion, I don’t think there was a better, more noticeable player on the ice than the wily veteran. Looking half his age, Madden was all over the rink, hassling the Avs defensemen down low, and causing all kinds of problems for the Colorado power play.
It was fitting that he picked up the game winner midway through the third period with his 11th goal of the season. The goal total is Madden’s highest since he picked up 20 in 2007-08 when he was a member of the New Jersey Devils. It was his fourth game winner of the season, which is tied for the team lead.
Tonight marked the return of Guillaume Latendresse
, who hadn’t played a game since undergoing hip and abdominal surgeries last fall. Two minutes into the game, Latendresse hopped the boards for an offensive zone faceoff and was greeted with a loud ovation from the sellout crowd.
The big man didn’t factor into any of the Wild’s five goals, but he was a +1 (every Wild player was a +1 other than Andrew Brunette, Brad Staubitz and Warren Peters
, who were even). He also caused plenty of problems for the Avs by working hard in front of the net, which is exactly what the Wild will need from him through the end of the season.
Richards made sure he singled out how much Latendresse’s return meant for a club in need of some good news on the injury front.
“It was great having Gui back,” said Richards. “I don’t know if he got any points or not, but he certainly had impact in the games as far as creating and scoring some goals, going to the net hard.”
While tonight’s game was rather tame for these two teams playing the finale of their six-game season series that certainly got ugly at times. But at the end of the game, the Avs showed what they’re all about. After Kyle Brodziak
sealed the Wild victory with an empty netter at the 19:56 mark of the third, Avalanche Head Coach Joe Sacco sent out goonie, David Koci and agitator Cody McLeod. Sure enough, those two went after Wild enforcer Marek Zidlicky after the buzzer.
The comedy came as Avs goaltender Peter Budaj (earlier whistled for roughing when he punched the back of Latendresse’s head as he lay flat on the ice) skated to center ice and dropped his gloves in a challenge for Backstrom to meet him at center ice.
While I’ve been wondering if I’d be witness to the Wild’s first-ever goalie-on-goalie fight, but Budaj has lost his mind if he thinks Backstrom is going to risk injury or skin off his knuckles on him.
Even more mind-boggling was that it was Adam Foote who was Colorado’s voice of reason as he pulled Budaj back toward the team bench.
Brunette keeps adding to his legacy as one of the gutsiest players in Wild history. Without a goal in his last 12 games and battling an illness that has sidelined two Wild players already, Brunette came up with the biggest goal of the game, and maybe the season to this point.
Colorado had taken advantage of some second period sloppiness and taken a 2-1 lead. Instead of going into the third period with desperation, Brunette batted in
a Pierre-Marc Bouchard
rebound out of midair with 2:14 to play, rousing the crowd and setting the tone for a Wild-dominated third period.