The Wild completed the home-and-home sweep over Colorado this afternoon with a 6-4 victory here in Denver.
Devin Setoguchi scored two goals and an assist and was a career-high plus-4. He now has nine goals and 15 points in 17 games since Feb. 9 (his overtime winner over Nashville). He had no goals and two assists in the first 10 games.
The bigger story tonight may have been Pierre-Marc Bouchard, whom coach Mike Yeo said deserved to play another game despite Jason Zucker being cleared to play, rewarding Yeo for the faith.
Bouchard scored fittingly the eventual winning goal – fittingly because the Avs were pushing hard and cut a 4-1 deficit to 4-3. Yeo called time, began barking at the bench, telling them to relax, reminding them that they were still ahead by one on the road. Just 1:39 later, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog committed a horrific turnover into the slot. Bouchard picked it off and roofed a nasty backhander in the top corner over Semyon Varlamov.
Bouchard also had an assist and was plus-2 with linemate Matt Cullen. Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak each scored goals on assists from linemate Dany Heatley. Ryan Suter had a goal and assist (now leads the Wild in scoring with 23 points; he’s fairly good, eh?).
Nik Backstrom had a real shaky night. Don’t know if he’s tired. Don’t know if the afternoon game through off his routine. I have never covered a goalie that has such a disciplined pregame routine. Regardless, his second-period theatrics settled down in the third period and he beat an Avs team he almost always beats.
Backstrom has started seven in a row, 11 of 12 and 21 this season. Yeo said he’s aware of the workload and they’re on top of it, but he indicated he’ll keep riding him. The afternoon game should give him time to rest up for Monday in Vancouver.
Varlamov got the loss, but the Wild chased Jean-Sebastien Giguere with four goals in the first. It was the sixth time in Wild history that it scored four goals in a period on the road. It was the first time the Wild’s scored four goals in the first period since Jan. 24, 2008, and first time on the road since March 25, 2004.
Mike Rupp suffered a lower body injury in a first-period fight. He tried to come back but left again in the second. Yeo doesn't think it's serious.
I’ve got to get out of here and jet to the airport. I may add to this at the airport. Otherwise, talk to you from Vancouver after Sunday’s 1 p.m. PT practice.
More from Star Tribune
More From Russo's Rants
The Wild lost for the eighth time in 10 games and ninth time in 12 games in the month of March.
Luke Kunin's arrival with Iowa comes at a good time after he signed a contract with the Wild on Thursday.
The 2015 Wild first-round pick captained the United States to gold at the most recent world junior championships and was the first sophomore captain at Wisconsin since the 1970s.
The same lines and the same defensive pairs were on the ice as the Wild looks for its first winning streak since Feb. 27-28 on Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Wild snapped a five-game losing streak and won for the third time in 11 games this month.