DENVER – Wild coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout, and players huddled around the bench to hear his message.
“Let’s not get down,” Boudreau said in his pep talk. “If you’re going to get down and think negative thoughts and not be positive about your abilities, then you’re going to lose before you start.”
But this break to refocus didn’t help spur the Wild.
Instead, it only got worse.
Amid a dynamic effort from its top line, the Avalanche toppled the Wild 7-1 Friday in front of 17,325 at Pepsi Center to seal a pointless two-game trek for the visitors and put a dent in the progress recently accomplished with a season-best five-game win streak.
This was the first time since Dec. 22-23 the Wild came up empty-handed in consecutive games.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “[Friday] it was embarrassing.”
Center and Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and racked up five points, and each of his linemates — captain Gabriel Landeskog and winger Mikko Rantanen — chipped in a goal. Overall, the unit combined for 10 points, as the Wild struggled to tame the Avalanche’s speed and aggressiveness with the puck.
“We just weren’t able to contain them,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “They were coming at us with four or five guys every rush.”
Landeskog started the onslaught 9 minutes, 42 seconds into the first with a deflection while his back was to the net. Only 2:26 later, MacKinnon roofed a shot on the power play after the Wild failed to clear the zone earlier in the sequence.
That’s when Boudreau paused the action, talking to his group before sending it back out to play. And although the team was able to prevent the Avalanche from growing its lead the rest of the period, it imploded in the second. Defenseman Tyson Barrie started the parade of offense when he sneaked into the slot to wire a shot by goalie Devan Dubnyk at 5:54.
“I thought that third goal was the difference,” Suter said.
MacKinnon, who helped set up Barrie’s tally, scored five-hole at 8:08. The Wild challenged the play to determine if it was offside, and it looked like the team had a case with Rantanen trying to clear the zone to tag up before the puck re-entered.
But video review determined the goal was legit, and the Wild was dinged with a penalty for delay of game. Colorado didn’t convert on the ensuing advantage — the team finished 1-for-3, while the Wild blanked on its three chances — but it tacked on a fourth only 2:31 after MacKinnon’s goal.
After spinning along the wall, center Carl Soderberg unleashed a backhand on net, and it slipped between the post and Dubnyk’s right leg.
That was it for Dubnyk, who was also pulled in a 7-2 loss to the Avalanche in Colorado on Jan. 6.
“It was a little déjà vu, for sure,” said Dubnyk, who exited with 12 saves. Backup Alex Stalock stopped seven in mop-up duty.
Stalock gave up the Avalanche’s sixth at 12:40 when Rantanen buried a rebound to cap off four Colorado goals in 6:46.
Before the period mercifully ended for the Wild, captain Mikko Koivu sabotaged goalie Semyon Varlamov’s shutout bid with 2:53 to go on his third goal in as many games. Varlamov made 31 saves.
The Avalanche issued its reply 7:46 into the third on a one-timer from winger Matt Nieto.
“I didn’t think we had the jump to get back in there,” Boudreau said.