DENVER – The outcome on the scoreboard wasn't the only loss absorbed by the Wild.
Captain Jared Spurgeon suffered an upper-body injury Tuesday, missing the entire third period, and the Wild ran out of gas to sputter 2-1 to the Avalanche at Ball Arena.
"It's definitely tough going down to five 'D' in the altitude," defenseman Carson Soucy said.
Spurgeon is the latest Wild player to get hurt, with defenseman Matt Dumba (lower body) and winger Marcus Johansson (upper body) already out. Winger Marcus Foligno is unavailable due to the NHL's COVID protocols.
Winger Kevin Fiala is eligible to return Thursday after finishing up a three-game suspension for boarding. But the Wild could be subbing in a regular just as it replaces another if Spurgeon can't suit up.
The team doesn't have any extra defensemen currently available on the active roster, but Matt Bartkowski and Dakota Mermis are the defensive reserves on the taxi squad.
"It's a contact sport," defenseman Ian Cole said. "Things happen, and we just need to close ranks and set up and do our best to be better as a group of five or a group of four or however many guys we have in the lineup in that given moment. So, it's about mental toughness and stepping up and doing the job."
Already the Wild has added three players from the taxi squad into its lineup in this matchup vs. the Avalanche, and the likes of Gerald Mayhew and Kyle Rau are taking advantage of the opportunity.
Mayhew earned his first career assist and first point of the season on rookie Kirill Kaprizov's power play goal in the second period, and what got started that momentum for the Wild was a fight by Rau after he leveled a heavy hit on Colorado's Cale Makar.
"That was kind of just the spark we needed on the road," Soucy said.
The Wild continued to pile on the pressure in the third period, but the Avalanche didn't break – a stingy defensive posture that siphoned off free space. Still, throughout the game, the Wild had looks in tight with the puck squirming around the crease. Lately, though, that's a trouble spot for the team.
"It's just not going in right now," coach Dean Evason said. "There's so many around the goal line that are up for grabs and haven't went our way yet."
After a day off Wednesday, the Wild will finish off this two-game set in Denver on Thursday. The Wild and Avalanche then won't see each other until mid-March.