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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 5, Avalanche 2

Three first-period goals set tone early as Minnesota scores win over Colorado

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Sunday night:

1. After being shut out Saturday in Nashville, the Wild (46-25-8) badly needed a good first period against the Avalanche... and got it.

Colorado (21-54-3) is a team destined for the top of the NHL Draft lottery, but is also a team with plenty of young talent and nothing to lose. Let a team like the Avs stick around and things could get dicey.

It took the Wild barely more than five minutes to get on the board on Sunday, when Jason Pominville fed Charlie Coyle, who slipped a beauty of a pass to Martin Hanzal for the finish at the goalmouth for a 1-0 lead at 5:04 of the period.

"I thought it was a great response to last game to come out like that. No matter what the standings say, I thought [it] was really good," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "I thought we started to run a little low on gas after that because that's what happens when you come out with an awful lot of energy and adrenaline, and then once that starts to fade, you don't have too much left. But we had enough to hang on and [Dubnyk] played good to save us in the third period."

Just 23 seconds later, it was 2-0 when a shot from the point by Jared Spurgeon was initially stopped by Avs goaltender Calvin Pickard, but had enough backspin to get across the goal line for Spurgeon's 10th of the year. 

Video: COL@MIN: Hanzal, Spurgeon score within 23 seconds

Erik Haula, who was battling in front of Pickard, was initially credited with Spurgeon's goal before the folks in the scoring booth made the change. Haula got himself on the board later in the period, however, finishing off a ridiculous behind-the-back pass by Mikael Granlund with 20 seconds remaining before intermission.

Video: COL@MIN: Haula cashes in on slick dish from Granlund

Haula's goal was a big one; Gabriel Landeskog had finished a 2-on-1 break a couple minutes before that, threatening to take some of the shine off Minnesota's quality first period, one in which the Wild outshot the Avs by a 15-5 margin.

"It was big goal. Tough break there for [Jonas Brodin on Colorado's goal] got them back into it," Haula said. " It was nice going into the locker room with a two-goal lead."

2. Minnesota continued its push early in the second, driving Pickard from the game with a power-play goal 3:35 into the period.

Again, it was Haula in the middle of things, drawing an interference penalty on Colorado's Fedor Tyutin, putting the Wild on the man advantage for the first time in the game.

It took all of six seconds for Zach Parise to slip the puck between Pickard and the post, pushing Minnesota's lead to 4-1 at 3:35 of the frame.

Video: COL@MIN: Parise puts home PPG from along goal line

That was all Colorado coach Jared Bednar needed to see. He summoned Jeremy Smith from the bench to enter the game for Pickard, who surrendered four goals on just 16 shots in not quite 24 minutes of action.

"They're a fast, skilled team, so we had to keep playing structured hockey, getting pucks in behind them because that's where we do our best work," said Wild forward Jordan Schroeder, who scored Minnesota's fifth goal late in the second. "When we don't turn pucks over and go to work behind the net, good things happen when we do that."

It was a tough ending for Pickard, who has given the Wild fits in two previous starts this season. He made 32 saves in a 1-0 shutout win in Denver on Nov. 5 before backstopping the Avs with 43 saves in a 3-2 victory in St. Paul on Nov. 19.

3. The Wild had 12 different players find the scoresheet in the victory.

When Minnesota has been at its best this season, its scoring has come from a variety of sources. That was certainly the case on Sunday, as five different players scored goals, including one from each forward line.

Haula and Mikko Koivu were the only players among the group to register multiple points, as Haula was credited with an assist on Spurgeon's goal and the captain had helpers on Spurgeon's and Haula's tallies.

"I thought that was the best game he's played in a long time," Boudreau said of Haula. "He had energy throughout the night. That was great. It was great to see because we need that kind of energy and that kind of speed going forward." 

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs. Avalanche

In addition to the balanced offensive attack, goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves in his first start since Tuesday night.

Video: COL@MIN: Dubnyk lunges for marvelous stop on Duchene

One game after Alex Stalock laid claim to perhaps the save of the season, Dubnyk did his best to take the honor back with his ridiculous sprawling glove robbery of Matt Duchene midway though the third period.

"It was one of those plays, they hit the guy going across, and I maybe left my feet a little bit earlier than I would like. But you look back, and it's not a nice stop going through your head at that point," Dubnyk said. "You think it's going to end up in the net. That's the street hockey, what you do as a kid. You just break out of the shell and throw a piece of equipment over there, and I was fortunate to get a piece of it."

The win was Dubnyk's 38th of the season, which establishes a new single-season franchise record.


Loose pucks

• The victory moved Minnesota to 100 points on the season, the third time in club history it has reached the century mark.

• The Wild has scored five or more goals in 21 of 79 games (26.6 percent), surpassing its previous franchise record of 15 games in 2006-07 (18.3 percent).

• Jason Pominville, who assisted on Hanzal's goal, has 32 points in his 39 games in 2017. His helper was his 400th assist in the NHL.

• Granlund's assist on Haula's goal was his 200th NHL point.

• Jared Spurgeon has two goals and four assists in the last six games.

• Spurgeon's goal made him the 13th Wild player with at least 10 goals this season, tied for most in the NHL.

• Smith made 11 saves in relief of Pickard.

• Attendance: 19,164


He said it

"We want to get that feeling of winning. That's just a nice feeling to have, when you go onto the ice and just expect to win. We've had it for the entire season, and it slipped away for a few weeks. But if we can take the opportunity, if nothing else, to just get that feeling back this week of just knowing that when we go on the ice, we're going to win the hockey game, then that will be good to take into the playoffs." - Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk

Video: Locker Room Postgame vs. Colorado Avalanche


They said it

"Than can't happen. You get a big goal on the road to make it a one-goal game and you got to just play solid defensively and that has to be a priority. ... We didn't have a very good start and we didn't really have the jump we wanted to, but that 3-1 goal kind of deflates us a little bit. I think the second period, we played a much better period and much more offensively. We were creating a whole lot more." -- Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog 


Three stars

* Erik Haula

** Jared Spurgeon

*** Devan Dubnyk

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