Tuesday, March 1, 2016, Game , 6:00 pm MST
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
With the Colorado Avalanche looking to create some distance between themselves and the Minnesota Wild, the stage was set for an exciting battle on the Wild’s home ice. The Avalanche came looking to show off their shiny new players fresh from yesterday’s trade deadline and win the game.
The game started with energy as Wild forward Nino Neiderreiter tripped Nathan MacKinnon 12 seconds in. The Avalanche took advantage of the power play as Jarome Iginla scored from the point. All looked good as Colorado took shots from all over the ice.
Neiderreiter redeemed his penalty halfway through the period by scoring off Colorado defenseman Francois Beauchemin’s turnover in the neutral zone. One minute later, Minnesota’s Jason Pominville hit net off a faceoff in the Wild zone. With two minutes left, Wild center Erik Haula notched the third goal of the period on a breakaway. The period ended with the Avalanche down 1-3.
In a surprise move, goaltender Semyon Varlamov was benched for Calvin Pickard to start the second period. Whatever Coach Patrick Roy did at the intermission, he should do more, as the Avalanche came out flying. Three and a half minutes in, Colorado pulled Pickard on a delayed Minnesota penalty and defenseman Chris Bigras scored his first NHL goal.
Roy also mixed up the defensive pairings and Chris Bigras and Holden ended up together while Tyson Barrie and Eric Gelinas paired up. Minnesota wing Thomas Vanek slashed new Avalanche defender Eric Gelinas and Colorado went on the power play, keeping sustained pressure on the Wild goal for over three minutes. With seven minutes to go, wing Cody McLeod squeaked one through Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk’s legs to tie the game.
Officials subsequently called Colorado wing Shawn Matthias for slashing when Ryan Suter broke his own stick slashing Matthias’ leg. But the Avalanche killed the penalty and allowed only one shot on goal. A minute and a half after killing the first penalty, the referees called Colorado for too many men on the ice. Calvin Pickard showed up big, stopping two back-to-back shots, and the Avalanche successfully killed that penalty too.
With less than two minutes to go, Minnesota forward Erik Haula was called for holding and new Avalanche member Mikkel Boedker, who certainly impressed, hit the post. With three seconds left in the period, Colorado’s Blake Comeau earned a tripping penalty after losing his stick. The second period closed in a 3-3 tie.
Colorado managed to kill off the Comeau penalty at the beginning of third period but then struggled to get the puck out of their own zone. Eventually Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle managed to sneak a shot though the back door, moving the Wild to a 4-3 lead. The Avalanche regrouped, driving in and crashing the net but Devan Dubnyk stood tall.
With two minutes left, Roy pulled Pickard. Coyle scored thirty seconds later. Always the gambler, Roy left Pickard on the bench and Neiderreiter tallied the second empty net goal with 44 seconds left, sealing a 6-3 win.
Colorado’s defender Chris Bigras notched his first NHL Goal.
Charlie Coyle scored the go ahead goal in the third period, which the Avalanche never managed to match.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTES OF THE GAME
“He’s (Calvin Pickard) probably going to play the next game...we are probably going to go with him against the Panthers.” – Head Coach Patrick Roy
The loss drops the Colorado Avalanche out of the eighth Wild Card spot as they are tied with the Minnesota Wild for points but the Wild have one more game in hand. The Avalanche still have time to battle back for a playoff spot, especially since the game was close up until the last two minutes, and Colorado has stepped up their level of play. Unfortunately, they can’t afford to give up multiple odd man rushes.
The Colorado Avalanche return home to host the Florida Panthers at the Pepsi Center on Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 7:00 pm MST to start a four game home stand.