Zach Halverson | @ZachHalverson
After a frustrating start to the weekend, the Wild bounced back from their 3-0 loss to Nashville on Saturday with a 5-2 routing of the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center. It was a crucial win for the Wild as it they try to gather momentum entering the playoffs with just three games remaining in the regular season.
Devin Dubnyk returned to the net after watching newly recalled goaltender Alex Stalock start for the Wild in the previous two games. Dubnyk stopped 30 of 32 shots in his 38th victory of the season, a franchise record for wins by a goaltender.
The Wild offense kicked into gear early as Charlie Coyle fed Martin Hanzal a beautiful saucer pass that helped Hanzal draw first blood at the 5:04 mark of the first period. 23 seconds later, Jared Spurgeon fired a shot from the blue line that bounced off of Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard and spun backwards into the net.
Gabriel Landeskog tallied a goal late in the opening period to cut the lead to 2-1. Erik Haula responded less than three minutes later with a late first period goal to regain the two-score lead for the Wild. The goal was assisted by Mikael Granlund who tallied his 200th career point in the process.
For his part, Haula finished the game with a goal and an assist, which impressed Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau.
“I thought that was the best game he played in a long time.” Bourdeau said of Haula following the game. “He had energy throughout the night and that great. It was great to see him because we need that energy and that kind of speed moving forward.”
Zach Parise scored his 18th of the season with a power play goal 3:35 into the middle frame. Pickard was replaced by Jeremy Smith following the goal, with Pickard stopping just 12 of 16 Wild shots in the 23:21 of action that he saw.
The teams traded goals late in the 2nd Period before a scoreless third lead by an impressive performance by Dubnyk to seal the victory for the Wild.
With the win, the Wild reached 100 points on the regular season; the fifth NHL team to do so this year.
Shots allowed remain a concern with the Wild as they were outshot 32-28, including a third period in which they were outshot 11-2. It was the Wild’s second straight game allowing 30 or more shots.
Another concern for the Wild is consistency. The Wild haven’t won two straight games since Feb 27-28, which is a problem that Haula says the Wild need to fix entering the posteason.
“We’ve gotten ourselves in a little bit of a pickle where we haven’t had a lot of consistency.” Haula told Tom Reid after the game on KFAN. “We want to make sure in these last games that games here that we play really well and just build on good habits and just feel good about our game going into playoffs because that consistency is key.”