Colorado isn't just expected to vie for the West Division crown.
The Avalanche is supposed to contend for the Stanley Cup.
And on Saturday the Wild learned why that is.
"That team is good," Zach Parise said. "They're the class of the league."
In the first of four in a row between the rivals, Colorado executed a methodical takedown, shredding the Wild 5-1 at Xcel Energy Center with as well-rounded a performance as the Wild has encountered nine games into the season.
"It was a different type of game than we had played in the first eight," Parise said.
Top-line juggernauts Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog combined for five points, the defense limited the Wild to a season-low 20 shots and goalie Philipp Grubauer stopped 19 of them.
As if that wasn't challenging enough, the Wild (5-4) spent chunks of the game shorthanded because of a troubling six penalties (one of which was a double minor) and injury.
Defenseman Matt Dumba and winger Marcus Johansson left the game early. Coach Dean Evason didn't have an update on either player except that Dumba was still getting evaluated.
Dumba was hurt in the third period, getting tied up with teammate Jordan Greenway and falling awkwardly to the ice. He had to be helped down the tunnel away from the bench.
The Wild also lost Nico Sturm briefly in the second, and when he and Johansson went missing, that dropped the team to just 10 forwards since the Wild didn't sub a forward in for Kevin Fiala while he started to serve his three-game suspension for boarding.
Instead, the team dressed a seventh defenseman in Brad Hunt. And while Parise didn't feel fatigue among the forwards was a factor, the Wild was chasing Colorado all night.
"I don't think we helped ourselves as much as we could have," Greenway said. "It's a fast team. They played fast tonight. We didn't slow them down enough. We've got to be better. You give them respect. It's a good team we just played."
A windup from Logan O'Connor caromed off goalie Kaapo Kahkonen's dropped stick in the crease en route to the back of the net at 3 minutes, 2 seconds of the first period.
The Wild responded at 6:49 on a riser from Dumba that bounced off Grubauer's mask before sailing in and out of the net, but Colorado re-established its lead on a one-timer from Joonas Donskoi in the waning stages of a power play at 19:43.
"Ideally you'd love to kill that off and come out even in the second, but it didn't happen," Parise said.
Once play resumed in the second, the Avalanche picked up where it left off.
Rantanen cut across the middle of the Wild zone before wristing the puck just under the crossbar at 3:07, a highlight-reel goal that put the Avalanche up 3-1.
The Wild's chances of cutting into that deficit took a hit with the team's parade to the penalty box as the period progressed, and defenseman Carson Soucy was the grand marshal — committing six minutes' worth of penalties.
And in the third, a blistering shot by Brandon Saad at 12:17 inflated Colorado's cushion before J.T. Compher put the finishing touches on the rout with another power-play goal at 14:55.
Overall, the Avalanche went 2-for-7 on the power play and the Wild blanked on its two opportunities — plummeting the unit even deeper into its season-opening slump at 2-for-36. Kahkonen ended up with 28 saves.
"Those take away offensive opportunities," Hartman said of the ream of PKs. "They're one of the better power plays and more skilled power plays out there in the league, and we didn't make it easy on ourselves. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot there."