Simply put, today's afternoon matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild is the most important game the Avs have played since their game 7 loss to the Wild in the 2014 playoffs. Three points behind and with only one game in hand with just seven games remaining after this one, the Avalanche simply could not afford to fall five points behind the Wild and realistically stay in the playoff hunt.
An extremely high-energy first period would see one Avalanche power play and a whole lot of hard hitting from both teams in a game that certainly lived up to its billing early on. The game would remain scoreless through the first 20 minutes as both goaltenders pushed away some decent scoring chances.
The second period would start out with the same intensity and jump from both sides and after trading power play chances the scoreless tie would finally be broken as a horrific neutral zone turnover led to a give-and-go between Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund that resulted in an easy tap-in goal for Parise to push it to 1-0.
The Avalanche offense would dry up as the period went on and Minnesota would continue pushing the play and would make it 2-0 on a tipped puck with just 21 seconds remaining in the second on a play when both Nick Holden and Erik Johnson went to defend the passer, leaving Jordan Schroeder wide open for the tip in front. Not content with the meltdown at the end, Colorado would take a holding penalty with nine seconds to go in the period.
Colorado would begin the third period with a near full-length power play to kill off but a Charlie Coyle trip would negate the man-advantage and give Colorado a reprieve from its self-destruction. The reprieve wouldn't last long as Colorado would get another power play chance they did nothing with and Minnesota would get their own with Parise scoring his second of the game to make it 3-0 at 4:55 of the period.
The Avalanche would go on another power play with just over nine minutes remaining in the game and Patrick Roy would roll the dice with a pulled goaltender to make it 6-on-4 and Granlund would score into the empty net just seconds into the power play to make it 4-0.
Colorado would lifelessly give play out the remainder of the game as they watched their playoff hopes likely disappear.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Parise's second goal of the game would essentially ice this one and finish off the tailspin Colorado spent the second half of the game in.
The Schroeder goal in the waning seconds of the second period sapped the energy from the Avalanche side of the building and put Colorado into too deep of a hole to recover from.
BY THE NUMBERS
The loss puts the Avalanche five points behind Minnesota for the final playoff spot in the West with just seven games remaining.
The Avalanche continue their playoff push against an increasingly difficult schedule as they hit the road for the first game of a back-to-back on Monday, March 28 against the Nashville Predators. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 pm MST.