DENVER – One game after the Wild skated circles around the Colorado Avalanche in what felt like a 60-minute track meet in St. Paul, the Avalanche slammed the brakes on the Wild two nights later in the Mile High City.
In a slow, choppy game with few shots on goal, fewer scoring chances and so much time spent in a clogged neutral zone that Jacques Lemaire would have blushed, the Avalanche ended the Wild’s three-game winning streak with a 2-1 overtime victory at the Pepsi Center.
The Wild, 3-0-2 in its past five, got a point in the standings thanks to Zach Parise’s late-third-period, tying goal, but John Mitchell scored with 1 minute, 25 seconds left in overtime as Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu got trapped on the ice during a long shift.
Despite good looks almost every overtime, the Wild fell to 1-5 in 3-on-3 play. In those five losses, the Wild is scoreless on 12 shots. Parise came close to beating Semyon Varlamov on one of the Wild’s three Monday just before Mitchell’s winner.
“It’s not really a tactical thing here. We’ve got to finish when we get an opportunity,” coach Mike Yeo said of the Wild’s poor overtime results. “This can’t continue. It’s frustrating.”
It was the Avalanche’s second victory against Minnesota in the past eight meetings. The Wild is 16-3-4 in its past 23 regular-season visits to Denver, holding the Avalanche to two or fewer goals in 16 of those.
With the Wild trailing 1-0 in a tight-checking third period (the Wild registered two shots in the first 13 minutes), Parise scored with 6:09 left for his first goal since Oct. 25.
It was classic Parise. Parked at the goal crease, Parise scored off his own rebound after Jason Pominville fed Mikael Granlund for a shot at the near post.
In 17 regular-season games against Colorado with Minnesota, Parise has 10 goals and 11 assists, plus an additional 10 points in the Wild’s seven-game 2014 playoff series victory.
Parise had no goals and two assists in five games since returning from a sprained knee. He’s playing with other snakebit teammates, too. Jason Zucker has no points in the past eight games, Nino Niederreiter has no goals in the past 10 games and Koivu has no points in the past six games.
“We have a couple guys that could use a goal right now, and Zach was one of them,” Yeo said.
The game featured 10 shots after one period, 23 after two and four total shots in the first 10 minutes of the third period. Darcy Kuemper, who looked good in his start for the injured Devan Dubnyk, said it led “to a lot of standing around.”
It was a complete 180 on the Wild’s 44-shot, 3-0 victory over Colorado on Saturday.
“Really slow, there was not a lot of flow, seemed like a lot of neutral zone,” Parise said. “It didn’t really — for us anyways — have a lot of entertainment, that quick pace, that speed that the other game did.”
Added Suter: “It was tight; no one wanted to make a mistake. It was all in the neutral zone. … It wasn’t frustrating. It was just kind of boring.”
After a scoreless first period, the Koivu line had a strong forecheck but wore itself out cycling. When the Wild couldn’t score, the Avs caught Minnesota fatigued and Tyson Barrie finished a pretty tic-tac-toe for the first goal against the Wild in a franchise-record 178 minutes, 52 seconds.
From there, the game was tight again.
“There was ice available for us if we were a little quicker to take it,” Yeo said. “They had the same structure last game, but I thought we did a better job with quicker attacks, quick ups before they got set into position, quick to take our ice when there’s ice available whereas I thought tonight we just let the game slow down.”