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Rask takes his turn as the hero as Wild rallies past Avalanche

Forward's fourth goal of the season midway through the third period helped Minnesota erase a one-goal third-period deficit

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

DENVER -- The theme for the Wild over the past eight weeks has been next-man up; one where every night, it seems like there is a new hero. 

Friday night against the Colorado Avalanche, it was Victor Rask's turn to be the savior. Rask's goal with 8:02 to play in regulation broke a 4-4 tie and helped the Wild to an eventual 6-4 win in yet another barn burner of a road game.

Including an 8-5 win in Arizona six days earlier, Minnesota has scored 14 goals over its past two road contests. Eight different players lit the lamp against the Coyotes and six different players scored goals on Friday. 

"Everybody's contributing because I think everybody feels a part of it," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.

Rask's goal was his fourth of the season. A healthy scratch early in the year, Rask needed injuries up front in order to crack the lineup. But he's become a rock-solid regular in recent weeks and has adapted nicely to his role on the fourth line between Marcus Foligno and Ryan Hartman, a trio that continues to chug along.

Video: MIN@COL: Rask puts Wild ahead in 3rd

Having the opportunity to be the hero on Friday was extra gratifying for Rask because of how his first full season in Minnesota began. 

"I've been feeling comfortable with that puck on the ice all the time right now. I've been feeling pretty good since the season started and it's just nice to score the goal," Rask said. "it's nice to get to play with the same guys for a little bit. When you jump around, it's hard to find chemistry. But I think we've found pretty good chemistry and I like to play with those two guys."

Rask was awarded the team's Hero of the Game helmet by teammate Luke Kunin, getting the nod over any number of others who were certainly worthy recipients.

Video: Postgame helmet at Colorado

How about goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who has been outstanding in two starts this week, first shutting out Calgary on Monday, then making 40 saves against the high-powered Avalanche?

One might look on the scoreboard and see four goals against, but three of those came via redirections, and Dubnyk was otherwise unflappable, making a number of big stops along the way.

Dubnyk's confidence appears to be on the rise after a tough start statistically to the season. 

Video: Boudreau postgame at Colorado

"I'm just thinking it's like with him, if you're looking at golf, he played the front nine and wasn't very good. but he started off on the back nine birdie-par," Boudreau said. "So if he can get confidence in his own game, then I think that's going to be good for all of us for sure."

How about forward Kevin Fiala, who continued his red-hot play by assisting on two first-period goals? Fiala now has 23 points in 34 games but 22 in his past 26 after a tough start to the season.

Video: MIN@COL: Soucy fires shot past screened Francouz

Every night, it seems like Fiala has a puck magnet attached to the blade of his stick.

"He's involved. When he has the puck, he's so skilled. He can make plays," Boudreau said. "It's really exciting to see him do that."

How about Eric Staal, the veteran centerman, who has also flipped the script on a bad start and has helped carry the Wild. 

Video: MIN@COL: Staal sweeps in loose puck

His goal midway through the first was his team-leading 15th of the season and gave Minnesota a two-goal advantage. Staal has goals in back-to-back games, in three of his past four and six of his past eight, lighting the lamp seven times in all during that span. 

Considering he went eight games to start the season without scoring a goal, the longest drought to start a year in his career, the fact that he's on pace for his seventh career 30-goal season is quite remarkable.

Video: Locker room postgame at Colorado

"Like I've said before, I feel like guys are in roles they're comfortable in and gaining confidence in those roles," Staal said. "Even our line. it's not like we're out there every second shift. But when we're out there, we're being effective and I think that's the calling of our group. We've got guys in roles that are committed to just helping our team win."

The win moved Minnesota to within one point of both wild card positions in the Western Conference and to within two points of third place in the Central Division. Colorado, which entered with an eight-point edge on the Wild, had that narrowed to six.

St. Louis appears to be running away with the division, but the rest of the spots remain up for grabs, and the Wild proved Friday night that it can win just about anywhere when it's playing its game and getting contributions from everywhere.

That' when it's at its best.

Said Boudreau: "I think when you believe that you can come back, you have to have that belief before you do it. I don't think we had it at the beginning of the year ever, but I do think that the guys never think they're out of it at this stage."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 6, Avalanche 4

Video: Wild rally to defeat Avalanche

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