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Postgame Hat Trick: Avalanche 5, Wild 1

Colorado pulls away late, hands Minnesota first loss of exhibition campaign

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 5-1 loss against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center in Denver on Sunday:

1. Seeing his second action of the preseason, Niklas Svedberg was outstanding once again.

After allowing a goal 46 seconds into the game at Winnipeg last Monday, Svedberg has been nearly impenetrable, stopping 22 of the final 23 shots against the Jets and all 17 he faced through a period and a half of action Sunday.

His only goal allowed during that stretch? A laser one-timer by Winnipeg's Patrik Laine that likely would have beaten any goaltender in the world.

Svedberg was terrific to start the second period, stopping a clean breakaway by Rocco Grimaldi out of the penalty box, then steering away two more shots in quick succession. About a minute later, Svedberg aggressively brick-walled two more Colorado shots, leaving his blue paint to cut down the angle and keeping the puck clear of the net. 

Assistant coach John Anderson, serving as the Wild's acting head coach with Bruce Boudreau dealing with a family matter, said Svedberg's play was "awesome."

"In normal terms, we wouldn't have taken him out," Anderson said. 

The battle for the backup goaltender spot between Svedberg and Alex Stalock will definitely be one to watch over the final week of training camp. Svedberg has stopped 39 of 41 shots overall in a little over 70 minutes of play, while Stalock posted a 21-save shutout in his only action so far in the preseason.

"I felt good. I'm feeling good about my game," Svedberg said. "I've been working on some stuff during the summer and since I came here too. Technically, I feel good and you just try to prove yourself every minute you get."

Stalock will likely see at least one more start over the final three games of the exhibition season in an effort to further brandish his credentials.

2. The game Sunday was an example of giving a team too many chances to inflict damage.

Minnesota surrendered eight power plays to Colorado at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, keeping the Avs off the board in all eight en route to a victory. 

On Sunday, the parade to the penalty box continued. 

The Wild kept the Avalanche off the board in each of its first six man-advantage chances, but Colorado's speed and skill proved too much to keep off the board all night. 

Nathan MacKinnon's one-timer on power play No. 7 in the third period got past goaltender Steven Michalek and turned a two-goal deficit into a three-goal one. 

A few minutes later, while on another power play, MacKinnon snapped another one past a screened Michalek to make it 5-1, providing the final margin. 

In all, Colorado went 2-for-9 on the power play on Sunday, and had 17 power plays in back-to-back games over the weekend.

"Way too many penalties," said forward Daniel Winnik. "I think the tough part is, the League has put the onus on the refs to make judgment calls, so that's going to be different every single night, it's not a clear cut rule. It's something we have to adapt to. It's frustrating; as mad as we can get with, 'It's not a penalty,' that's just the way they're calling it right now."

Minnesota has surrendered 30 power plays through four games of the exhibition season. Ticky-tack or not, that's simple too many.

"Absolutely," Anderson said when asked if that was unsustainable. "We've got to learn to be a little smarter I guess. Wouldn't hurt to get a break or two as well."

Anderson said the penalties may also be taking a toll on other aspects of the Wild's game.

"We haven't scored a 5-on-5 goal in two games," he said. "I think it's part and parcel to taking too many penalties."

3. Marcus Foligno got his first unofficial goal as a member of the Wild, giving Minnesota the lead with a deflection late in the first period.

While the tally won't count once the regular season begins, it's the kind of goal the Wild will be looking for from Foligno as he tries to top the career-high 13 markers he had a year ago.

Defenseman Mike Reilly worked to the high slot and wristed a shot through traffic, a bulk of which was provided by the 6-foot-3 Foligno. On its way past, Foligno got a piece, getting the puck past Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov with 39 seconds left in the opening frame.

"Part of my job is to be a good net-front," Foligno said. "You gotta get to the front of the net, and not just get there, but stay there. The strength to fend off a d-man and push away from them and get open is part of all the details of scoring from there.

"Getting there is one thing. Being in a good position to make a [defenseman] vulnerable is another. I've gotta keep working. It's a progress. Goals don't come easy in this League."

The goal, of the power-play variety, was Minnesota's third goal in four periods of play against Colorado.


Loose Pucks

• Reilly tallied the lone assist on Foligno's goal, his first point of the preseason.

• Michalek made 17 saves on 22 shots over 28:35 of action in relief of Svedberg.

• Varlamov stopped 28 of 29 shots he faced, playing all 60 minutes.

• Colorado outshot Minnesota 39-29, including a 14-8 edge in the decisive second period.

• MacKinnon finished with three points, including two goals and an assist.

• Gabriel Landeskog also had a multi-point night for Colorado, tabulating a pair of assists.

• J.T. Compher and Rocco Grimaldi scored goals 1:22 apart in the second period to give Colorado the lead. Mikko Rantanen scored early in the third to make it 3-1.

• Christoph Bertschy and Daniel Winnik each tallied five shots on goal to lead Minnesota.


He Said It

"We took the first four or five [penalties] tonight and I think what happens is, the guys you use on the power play end up getting tired, so when we get our chance, we're not as spry. It wears you down as a team." -- Wild assistant coach John Anderson on the result of taking too many penalties


Dan's Three Stars

* Nathan MacKinnon

** Semyon Varlamov

*** Niklas Svedberg

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