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Postgame Hat Trick: Avalanche 4, Wild 1

Bartley's goal, several chances not enough in preseason home opener

by Phil Ervin /

Three takeaways from the Wild's 4-1 loss to Colorado on Tuesday in Minnesota's first home preseason game of 2016-17.

1. Minnesota (1-1 this preseason) had its chances against the Avalanche (1-0) in front of 16,920 at Xcel Energy Center.

The best of them took a save-of-the-year candidate from goalie Nathan Lieuwen to stop. On a Wild power play with about 8 minutes remaining, Jason Pominville's point-blank shot bounced upward behind Lieuwen, who deftly contorted his body for a behind-the-back glove save.

"I thought it was going in," Pominville said. "I actually raised my hands [in celebration].

"We had some looks. We moved the puck pretty good. We generated some opportunities. We unfortunately weren't able to put any away."

With an aggressive forecheck and a couple shots off the post, Minnesota attempted 28 shots on goal to Colorado's 30.

2. Eric Staal is getting comfortable in a Wild uniform.

The 13th-year pro and free-agent addition played his first game for Minnesota on Tuesday. In 19:25 of ice time, he tallied two shots and led the Wild with 12 face-off wins.

Wearing "the deep red [jersey] felt really good," said Staal, who centered a line with Pominville and Jason Zucker that drew postgame praise from coach Bruce Boudreau. "It's a great building to play hockey in. This is a great organization. I'm excited to kind of get started.

"We'll get through training camp, and then the real deal is going to feel great."

3. Victor Bartley made the most of his first game in a Wild uniform.

Video: Victor Bartley scores from point vs. COL

The defenseman's slap shot from the left point gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead at 11:18 of the first period. The Wild signed Bartley this offseason after he appeared in 14 games, including four playoff contests, with Nashville last year.

Minnesota hasn't scrimmaged in practice, so games like Tuesday's are the best chance to impress a new coaching staff, Bartley said.

"I think we need to be better overall, just knowing we have gone from practice and systems and we jumped right into a preseason game," he said. "Guys are going full-force here. Guys are playing their hearts out right now, trying to be part of this team."

Loose pucks

  • Boudreau strongly emphasized crisp passing when the players who didn't dress Tuesday night practiced earlier in the day. He had a similar message for the young players who filled out the game roster. "It's the NHL," Boudreau said. "Sometimes, you can really tell the difference [with] the soft passes. … If you can't pass, you can't make plays, and if you can't make plays, you're going to get beat."
  • Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made his first preseason appearance and stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced.
  • Boudreau said to expect the first round of training camp roster trimming by Wednesday. With the Minnesota Lynx hosting a playoff game at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday night, the Wild is set to practice at the University of Minnesota's Ridder Arena in the morning ahead of Thursday night's road exhibition against Winnipeg.
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