Happy Valentine’s Day, State of Hockey Legion.
What better way to spread some love than by spending the day keeping up with Wild hockey?
Tonight, the Wild looks to break the hearts of the Colorado Snow Piles, also know as the Avalanche. It’s the second time these two teams have met, with the good guys skating to a 4-2 victory on opening night.
The Wild is primed for a victory because Niklas Backstrom is in net and he has a spell over the Avs. He is 12-3-1 with a 2.32 goals against average, a .917 save percentage and one shutout in 16 career home starts against the Avalanche. Backs also celebrated his 35th birthday yesterday, so it’s like a double celebration.
Up front, the Wild reassigned Charlie Coyle to the Houston Aeros, the club’s American Hockey League affiliate. Forward Matt Kassian also cleared waivers and was reassigned to Houston. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks. He’ll be on a line with Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck.
Nate Prosser is tonight’s lone healthy scratch. Josh Harding is out because he’s been feeling off after switching medication in treatment for multiple sclerosis.
The Wild is looking dapper in its Iron Range Red sweaters, while the Avs wear the its white jersey with A crest.
We’ll be live tweeting the game over at @mnwildLIVE.
In the words of the famous love-maestro Marvin Gaye: Let’s get it on!
Period 1 - MIN 0, COL 0
No scoring to report in the first frame, but the Wild owned the play for most of the period. Several good chances, but the team just couldn't convert. The Wild outshot the Avs, 11-5. Wild had a strong forecheck going and look to build on first 20 in the second and third.
Period 2 - MIN 1, COL 2
After a slow first period, the scoring opened up in the second. The Avs were the first to strike, the Wild answered and Colorado responded to retake the lead heading into the third.
Colorado's first goal came on a nice 2-on-1 play. Paul Stastny started the play, making an indirect pass in the neutral zone to David Jone. Jones broke in and held the puck until the last second, sliding it cross ice to Aaron Palushaj, who accepted the pass and fired the puck high over an outstretched Backstrom.
The Wild answered on a goal from their leading scorer. Heatley brought the puck into the offensive zone, slowing things up and hit a trailing Koivu down the left side. The Minnesota captain fired a shot, that hit traffic on its way to the rink. Zach Parise picked up the puck on the left side of the net and quickly wrapped the puck around to the right, putting the puck past Giguere.
The Avs retook the lead on the power play with just under three minutes left in the period. Jamie McGinn fired a slap shot that Backstrom saved, but the rebound went right to Milan Hejduk, who roofed it past Backs. Tyson Barrie picked up the second assist on the play.
Wild need a big push at home to pull this one out, but I'm confident they will.
Period 3 - MIN 3, COL 3
The Wild need some secondary scoring, and they got it that period from maybe the most unlikely of sources.
Mike Rupp went into beast mode to bang home a rebound after taking a Mikael Granlund centering pass.
The Wild then took the lead on a pretty finish from its captain. Dany Heatley made a nice move around an Avs defender, but couldn't beat the second. However, the puck trailed and floated to the slot and Koivu picked it up. He went to his backhand and roofed it past an outstretched Giguere.
The Wild got unlucky on the game tying goal from Duchene. After the Avs sustained pressure, the Avalanche forward picked up the puck behind the net. He tried to make a centering pass that bounced off the leg of Jared Spurgeon to even things up.
Overtime - MIN 3, COL 3
Backstrom comes up huge with the Avs on the PP to keep overtime scoreless. And we're heading to a shootout.
Shootout - MIN 3, COL 4
Parise is up first and tries to go backhand but Gigure makes a save.
Hejduk beats Backstrom high on the backhand to make it 1-0 Avs.
Koivu also goes backhand, but is denied trying to go 5-hole, 1-0 Avs.
Duchene wins it as he fires the puck low to Backstrom's blocker side.