DENVER – Two verdicts from the NHL determined goals in Friday’s showdown between the Wild and Avalanche at Pepsi Center.
Both went against the Wild, but neither sabotaged the team.
Instead, it overcame each ruling to pull out a 6-4 victory in Colorado to open its post-holiday break schedule with its third win in its last four games.
“I do think that the guys never think they’re out of it at this stage,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
First, the Wild had a goal wiped off the scoreboard after it appeared to go up 3-2 in the second period.
Defenseman Ryan Suter handed off to center Joel Eriksson Ek, who scored off the rush.
But the Avalanche issued a coach’s challenge to determine if the play was offsides, and it was – with winger Marcus Foligno still in the offensive zone during a line change while the Wild entered the attacking zone at the other end of the blue line.
“We thought it was offsides,” Boudreau said. “We could see Marcus was inside the zone, and we were coming in at the same time.”
Before the period ended, Colorado evened it at 3 on a redirect off center Nathan MacKinnon’s skate that goalie Devan Dubnyk protested immediately.
Again, though, the call went against the Wild since the goal stood.
“It’s a tough call,” Boudreau said. “He moves his skate. I thought he moved his skate forward. But I’m not the one making the call. You’re allowed to redirect it and I think if you keep your skate blade on the ice, things can happen. But it did look to me that he turned and moved his leg forward. But obviously Toronto didn’t think so.”
Despite the adversity, the Wild answered back – scoring three times in the third period after it fell behind 4-3.
“You just have to keep pushing and keep going,” winger Mats Zuccarello said.
The win was significant for other reasons, too.
- It improved the Wild to 3-8-1 against the Central Division and was arguably the toughest of the bunch facing the second seeded Avalanche in Colorado.
“We believe that we belong up in the division,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “I think that we’ve shown it in the way we’ve played the last long period of time here, and that’s what we have to believe and that’s what we do believe. These are big points.”
- Numerous players continued their offensive grooves.
Zuccarello reached double digits in goal (10) to stay at a point-per-game pace over his past five.
Winger Kevin Fiala has 15 points in his last 17 games after a two-assist night.
Center Eric Staal leads the team in goals after potting his 15th and seventh in his last eight games.
Defenseman Carson Soucy boasts eight points in his last 12 following his first-period goal.
After notching his third assist in the last four games, defenseman Jonas Brodin’s 16 helpers on the season are his most since he set a career-high of 22 in 2016-17.
And fellow blue liner Ryan Suter has 16 points in his last 19 games. His 13 assists since Nov.19 are tops among NHL defensemen.
- Poor road play contributed to the Wild’s slow start, but the team has been much better as the visitor of late – going 8-5-2 in its last 15 away tests.
The schedule, however, now shifts home where the Wild will play 16 of its next 19 starting Sunday when it hosts the Islanders at Xcel Energy Center.