Yeah, about that “brick wall” battle we set up in the preview...
While Philip Grubauer and the Avalanche defense got the memo about a low-scoring affair, Colorado’s offense had other plans, shelling Cam Talbot with 55 shots and dominating the Minnesota Wild in every aspect of the game. The final result: a lopsided 5-1 loss to the Avalanche. But even worse than an embarassing effort was the fact that a lost edge may cost the Wild one of their top defensemen for a while, as Matt Dumba was carried off the ice favoring his right leg after colliding awkwardly into the boards.
As for the game itself, it would be ideal if we could just ignore the fact that the first period even happened, but it’s northworthy if only to fully express how bad the Wild looked outside of Talbot. Minnesota’s offense only managed six shots, but worse than that the Wild appeared flat-footed in every aspect of the game. This was especially apparent on the defensive end of the ice as Colorado racked up 25 shots of their own in the first frame alone. The Avalanche opened the scoring when Nathan McKinnon beat Talbot on a deflected shot off of Dumba.
With the first period mercifully waning and the Wild hoping to get out the first 20 minutes only down one, Colorado expanded their lead to two on a pretty passing play from Samuel Girard, setting up Mikko Rantanen for a silky tap in.
Early in the second the Avalanche came out flying again, but the Wild were able to stem the bleeding a bit. After Nico Sturm drew a penalty on Joonas Donskoi for the Wild’s second power play of the game, Victor Rask took advantage on the recently resurgent man advantage for Minnesota, sniping Grubauer on a nifty move to cut the Avalanche lead to one.
But just as the Wild were hoping to turn their power play success into a momentum shift, the air completely came out of the Wild’s sails when Dumba lost an edge and careened legs first into the boards. Dumba had to be helped off the ice by his teammates and the trainer, unable to put any weight on his right leg. It looks bad, and potentially represents a big loss for a team that’s already short Marcus Foligno for the forseeable future.
Still trying to process seeing a locker room favorite being helped off the ice in pain, Gabriel Landeskog was able to capitalize minutes later on the power play on a strange play in front of Talbot. Jared Spurgeon went down to the ice to block a cross-crease pass, but Landeskog found the puck on is stick with Talbot trying to race him back to the post. Landy won the race and earned the Avs back their two-goal lead.
The second period score might have reflected a more balanced effort as each team scored a single goal, but the shot differential climbed to 45-13 as Colorado continued to dominate the chances. But while Talbot had been playing an overall solid game through two periods allowing goals that were not totally his fault, Donskoi came in on a breakaway early in the third and Talbot got beat soundly through the five-hole after overcommitting on the deke, extending the Avalanche lead to 4-1.
As the game continued, the Avalanche continued to show why they’re considered a Stanley Cup favorite while the Wild continued to turtle. Rantanen got his second of the night on a beauty of a mid-air tip, springing him past Nico Sturm and allowing him to bury a backhand past a reeling Talbot and giving the Avs their 5-1 final score.
Sure, the Wild were embarrassed by a superior Colorado Avalanche squad. They didn’t come to play, and seriously missed a player like Foligno who could have provided some grit and jump. But bigger than the five-goal loss and the end of the five-game winning streak will be the loss of Dumba, who will assuredly miss an extended period of time with what will be termed a “lower body injury,” but is likely to be a serious leg or ankle injury.
Evason couldn’t confirm anything after the game, but his minimal statement speaks volumes.
The Wild were asked to “prove it” tonight, and failed hard. They’ll get another chance in two days. Let’s hope Minnesota can play with more speed and skill in front of Kaapo Kahkonen, who’s likely to get the start in Saturday’s afternoon rematch.
Can the Wild be the first team since themselves to get 30 shots on Grubauer?
Ha. Just the opposite - the Avalanche just about had 30 shots alone in the first period.
Can the Wild not lose the special teams battle?
Again, ha. Sure, the Wild scored their only goal of the game on the power play, but despite earning four bites at the apple, their special teams at times looked just as discombobulated as it has the entire season.
The Avalanche, on the other hand, only got two chances with the man advantage but also scored once. So no, the Wild weren’t able to win the battle. But unlike some of their recent series, they didn’t come anywhere close to winning the war, either.
Can the Wild net stay on fire?
If you mean “on fire” like a dumpster is on fire... then yes, totally en fuego.
To be honest, Talbot did manage a save percentage north of 90% and stopped 50 shots. And despite allowing five goals, tonight’s result was not his fault.
The Wild will have to have a really short memory and bounce back quickly for an afternoon rematch against the Avalanche on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Denver.
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