The last two games for the Minnesota Wild have been a bit of a shooting percentage correction. After talking about the Wild’s sky-high shooting percentage being unsustainable, the Wild have had just one goal to show for itself against the Sabres, and now the Avalanche. Calvin Pickard turned away all 32 shots in shutout fashion as Minnesota can’t find the net after a long four day layoff.
The Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville started the game with a great shift deep in the Avalanche zone from the opening puck drop. It would be a trend as the Wild would spend lots of time in the Colorado end and put up 15 shots in the period. It was tied for the second highest shot total for a period this season, and the most shots on goal in the first frame so far. Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard turned away all 15 shots the Wild threw towards him. He didn’t have to be spectacular, but he was tested a bunch. Devan Dubnyk, on the other hand, was tested ten times, and had a Matt Duchene shot ring the post. Dubnyk stopped all 10 shots in the period as the teams skated to a scoreless tie after one period.
As expected, the Avalanche would push back in the second period. The final six seconds of a Wild power play would be negated after a fumbled puck at the Colorado blue line allowed Blake Comeau to get a breakaway, in which Ryan Suter slashed him, and Matt Dumba finished him off with a cross check. It would be a 1:54 two-man disadvantage for the Wild. Jonas Brodin happened to be in the right place at the right time and blocked a sure goal, that instead allowed Dubnyk to cover and freeze. Eric Staal won a big faceoff for a big clear, and after that, the Avs’ remaining 5-on-3 advantage struggled mightily to get anything going.
The Wild got the benefit of a Fedor Tyutin interference penalty and got the best chance of the game, but Pickard was equal to the task. The Wild were 0-for-3 with just four shots on goal on the power play after two periods. Shots were even at 12 in the second period for a two period total of 27 for Minnesota and 22 for Colorado. Both goalies appeared to be locked in for the long haul in the duel.
Devan Dubnyk appears to be a mild-mannered sort of dude. I mean, if you’re in a media scrum with him, you almost want him to speak up a little bit. We found out it was just a facade, when Dubnyk took exception to Gabriel Landeskog sitting atop his crease. The Wild netminder gave Landeskog a whack to the back of the leg. When the Avalanche captain took exception, Dubynk put what can only be described as a Greco-Roman wrestling grapple hold, in which a fracas ensued. Calvin Pickard skated out to the blue line to call Dubnyk out, but nothing came of it.
The Wild had been 29-for-30 on the penalty kill leading up to Christoph Bertchy’s holding the stick minor. The Wild started with a couple good clears and defended the back-door pass well. Except, they forgot to cover Landeskog skating down the slot. Duchene was able to find, and Dubnyk couldn’t make the save. With the Wild now trailing 1-0, and just 1 shot on goal in the period, Minnesota tried to pull the goaltender with under a minute left. Charlie Coyle appeared to have scored with 52.5 seconds left, but it was immediately waved off. Eric Staal had pushed Erik Johnson into Pickard, which didn’t allow Pickard to play his position. Minnesota couldn’t get the puck on-net for the last few ticks and the Wild would get shutout for the first time this season. It was also the Wild’s first regulation loss at Pepsi Center since April of 2014.
You can’t say enough about how good Calvin Pickard was in this game, and how good Coyle could have been. Coyle had many chances and opportunities, but just could not bury them. The one he did get into the net was ultimately waved off. Jonas Brodin led all Wild players with four shots on goal, which is both good and bad. It’s great that Brodin is involved offensively, but there has to be a forward getting more if the team wants success.
Overall, you’d like to think the Wild played their most complete game of the season. They were better on breaking out of the zone, got more shots on net, and played physical in all three zones. The power play is bound to break once in awhile, so taking four penalties and actually taking more penalties than one of the higher penalized teams in the league is not good. If there was one period that the Wild needed more, it was that third period. Five shots on goal just isn’t going to get it done. It also means that out of 11 games this season, the Wild has 10 periods in which it has five shots on goal or fewer. It’s not good to come away with just one goal in two games ever, but having those games against Buffalo and Colorado, and then not getting any points hurts even more.
Minnesota will take on the defending Stanley Cup Champions next Thursday in Pittsburgh. With another four days off, the Wild will have to practice getting more traffic to the net and getting shots from danger areas, as most of the shots came from rather low-danger areas against the Avalanche.
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