Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:
1. Was Jason Zucker a trash collector in a past life?
We only ask because Zucker did a heck of a job cleaning up the trash in the crease to score the game-winning goal with 10:02 left in regulation.
With the two clubs knotted at 2-2, Ryan Suter fed Eric Staal with a great pass at the right post, but Avs goaltender Philipp Grubauer got the left pad over just in time to make an incredible save.
Video: COL@MIN: Zucker puts Wild back ahead in 3rd
The puck sat on the goal line, however, as Grubauer seemed confused about where it was. Enter Zucker, who saw it sitting in harms way for a couple of seconds, before he rammed it through the goalie's legs and into the net for his seventh goal of the season and first game-winning marker.
2. The GEEK Squad continued its solid play.
Tasked with slowing down the Nathan MacKinnon line, the grouping of Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin also chipped in offensively, scoring Minnesota's second goal of the evening 2:41 into the second period.
It came after the line had a marathon shift in the Avs' end near the tail end of the first period, one where the line was at its best grinding away below the faceoff dots and generating quality chances down low. Nothing came of it, but it was certainly a memorable shift.
Video: COL@MIN: Greenway scores after pretty passing play
The line was rewarded in the second when Kunin made a nice pass to Greenway in front, who made a nice move himself to get Grubauer to commit before waiting him out and shooting into an open cage for his second goal of the season.
So confident in the group is Wild coach Bruce Boudreau that it was this line on the ice for the final shift of the game to close out the win. Take that for what it's worth.
3. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar is good.
It's not exactly breaking news, but Colorado's rookie defenseman is going to be a headache for the Wild and its fans for years to come. He was one of the best players in all of college hockey the past couple of years, helping the University of Massachusetts to a Frozen Four last year before stepping right into the Avs' lineup in the middle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and barely missing a beat.
He's picked up right where he left off this season and had a heck of a game Thursday, scoring a pair of goals in the second period to help dig Colorado out of a two-goal deficit.
His first was a snap shot on the power play that was next to impossible for Wild goaltender Alex Stalock to stop, as it went through two screens and hit the top right corner of the net.
Makar's second was a beauty as he deked around a player and flipped a shot short side, all in the same motion.
His heroics in the second period gave Colorado life. Trailing by a pair, in the final game of a five-game, 10-day road trip, the Avs easily could have had their heads on the plane by that point. Instead, the teams went to the third knotted at 2-2.