It took just five minutes and some change for the momentum and the scoreboard to turn against the Wild. A game that saw both teams combine for 77 shots and one that the Wild seemed to be in control on the back of their goaltender Devan Dubnyk, the Avalanche would be almost in lock-step with Minnesota. Nate MacKinnon’s goal would eventually be the difference and the Wild would find themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard for the second time to the Avs.
Charlie Coyle would put the Wild on the board first, when he deflected a hard pass from Jared Spurgeon past Calvin Pickard on the power play. Pickard has shown to play very well versus Minnesota, as he shutout the Wild in the last meeting. Minnesota would rattle off 21 shots in the period, a season high, and the Avalanche would get 20 shots in the first period as well. Aside from the Coyle goal, both goalies looked dialed in.
The second period started with the Wild killing off a bench minor. Minnesota did well to stay out of the box for most of the game. However, the PK would break and finish only 1-for-2 on the night. At 6:34 of the second, Tyler Graovac would receive a pass from Jonas Brodin in the neutral zone and carry into the zone. He’d then do a spin-o-rama to get around Eric Gelinas and drive to the net. His pass to Chris Stewart on the backdoor would get blocked, and as he’s falling to the ice, gathers the puck and shoots over a butterflied Pickard.
Now, with a two goal lead and the way Devan Dubnyk has been playing, you’d think that’d be the ball game. However, as in control the Wild seemed, they were eqully close to being out of control of the game. Nino Niederreiter made a diving play at the goal line to keep the Avs scoreless, the Avs put all kinds of shots on goal, and could keep the Wild, “running around our own end,” as head coach Bruce Boudreau would describe it. Mikko Rantanen would score to spoil the bid for a second consecutive shutout that Dubnyk was brewing up. It was a nice feed from Nathan MacKinnon to Rantanen who had nothing but open net staring at him. Then Christian Folin’s holding penalty would lead to Carl Soderberg’s goal to tie the game. Jared Spurgeon had the puck on his stick at least two times with a chance to clear, but failed to get it past Soderberg and Barrie at the blue line. With the PK shifts of Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund getting extended, the goal was only a matter of time.
The Wild was on its heels at this point as it desperately searched for a reset button. Two minutes and 32 seconds after the Avalanche tied the game at two, MacKinnon would split two forwards and shoot through Mike Reilly’s skates past Dubnyk to gain the lead. It would stand as the eventual game winner because Minnesota just might be the worst team ever when it comes to converting in 6-on-5 empty net situations.
Minnesota sat back on their laurels and assumed Dubnyk would be there to bail them out. For the most part, he has been there, but even Boudreau couldn’t believe that his netminder could sustain an on-slaught like he did and remain steady. “I kept saying to myself, ‘How long can Duby do this?’” Boudreau commented. Needless to say, the head coach was displeased with how the defense and overall team defense played in support of Dubnyk.
The Wild had this game in the bag and they let it slip away.