DENVER – The result was closer, and the effort was better.
But the lack of scoring power from the Wild’s forwards was still clear Saturday when the team fell 4-2 to the Avalanche at Pepsi Center, sealing a 0-2 start to the season.
“We’re not going to be the pretty tic-tac-toe kind of team,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We have to manufacture goals. When we get opportunities, we have to bear down and put them in.”
With 31 shots on net Saturday, the Wild forced Colorado goalie Philipp Grubauer to work but the execution was still lagging.
Of the team’s four goals thus far, only two have been delivered by forwards and both were deflections off shots by defenders. While those are the types of finishes that this team will need to rely on to be productive, the Wild is also missing on point-blank shots – costly mistakes when the score is as tight as it was for most of the action against the Avalanche.
“We will take advantage of the [practice] time and work on some things and see how we can generate more offensively,” winger Zach Parise said. “That was kind of the theme last year, too. I feel like a broken record. We have to figure it out.”
While that’s the most glaring concern for the Wild as it embarks on a four-day lull in the schedule, there are a few positives it can embrace during the downtime, too.
After surrendering the first goal of the game, the penalty kill settled in and did a terrific job shutting down one of the most skilled units in the NHL. Overall, it survived five of the Avalanche’s six power plays.
“To finish strong was good for us,” defenseman Ryan Suter said.
Defenseman Carson Soucy had a solid season debut, playing 13 minutes, 2 seconds – ice time he used dish out five hits and block two shots.
“I thought he was pretty good tonight,” Boudreau said. “I thought he played with poise. I thought he was a little bit mean when he had to be. I thought he did a good job.”
And Parise notched his first goal of the season after having a quiet preseason in which he failed to register a point.
Parise was credited with the team’s second goal after defenseman Matt Dumba’s shot clipped his pants.
“It always is [a relief],” Parise said. “You want to get rid of the bagels as soon as you can. I would like for us to have gotten another one. The opportunities were there as a group.”