The Wild has mercifully put the Avalanche in its rearview mirror, finishing up the season series after getting stumped for the third time in the four-game set.
But the repercussions of a 5-1 slip-up Tuesday in front of 19,171 at Xcel Energy Center might linger.
Not only did the Avalanche join the Stars in sitting three points back of the Wild for the third seed in the Central Division, cutting into a lead that could have ballooned to seven points had the reverse happened, but defenseman Jared Spurgeon left the game because of a lower-body injury — the severity of which is unknown.
Less than four minutes into the third period, Spurgeon appeared to lose an edge in the corner of the Wild’s defensive end and went into the boards as his legs split apart. He struggled to get to his feet and was down on the ice until he was eventually helped off.
After the game, coach Bruce Boudreau said the issue was not a knee or ankle.
“That’s good news,” Boudreau said. “But it’s a lower-body [injury], and we’ll know more probably tomorrow.”
It was a grim sequence to watch, especially considering Spurgeon’s history. Earlier this season, he missed nine games because of a groin injury.
“That’s gross,” said goalie Devan Dubnyk, who picked up 17 saves. “ … I hoped he was going to get up right away. He kind of turned around and looked like he was going to get up. He was really flexible, but that was not nice. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he’s all right or at least minor, but it looked like it hurt.”
Spurgeon’s exit was part of a difficult finish for the Wild, as the Avalanche pulled away with three third-period goals — a far cry from the Wild’s promising start.
The team tested Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov 12 times in the first period, at one point up 11-2 on shots. But a lack of execution hung over the group, which blanked on four power-play opportunities.
“I don’t think he saw the puck,” winger Zach Parise said of Varlamov, who had 33 saves. “He was just in good position, and it hit him. I thought we deserved better there.”
Colorado, meanwhile, converted on its third shot 16 minutes, 22 seconds into the first, with winger J.T. Compher scored on a rising puck.
What’s more, the Wild was shorthanded for the end of the period while winger Jason Zucker received an X-ray on his wrist and went through concussion protocol before returning for the second; he fell hard to the ice after taking a slash to the left arm while crashing the net.
The Wild eventually tied it when captain Mikko Koivu finished off a Charlie Coyle feed at 13:56, the team’s 23rd shot. But only 59 seconds later, a wide-open Nikita Zadorov one-timed the puck by Dubnyk.
And just 11 seconds into the third, center Nathan MacKinnon wired in a shot after getting around Koivu.
“It really did a little bit of a number on us,” Boudreau said of the third goal.
Colorado added a fourth on a shot from Compher from his knees at 13:26 and secured another power-play goal from center Tyson Jost with 1:21 to go, the Avalanche’s second tally in three chances to finalize a 3-0-1 advantage in the series.
“We can be happy we don’t play them again,” Zucker said. “But realistically if it comes playoff time, we have to figure something out. We can’t just have a mental block against one team.”