December 5, 2015 Game 27
Xcel Energy Center Saint Paul, Minnesota
After a week of strong defensive hockey and a month of improved possession play, the Avalanche flew to Minnesota to take on the rival Wild and laid an egg on the ice. The Minnesota Wild took the reigns early in this game and never let go, spending the vast majority of the night in the Avalanche zone and suffocating the Avalanche offense. The Wild outshot the Avalanche by a margin of 44-20 and finished with a 3-0 victory.
Despite trailing the Wild 17-6 in shots after one period, the Avalanche weathered the early storm and entered the 2nd period with a blank scoreboard. Semyon Varlamov‘s heroic shutout bid would finally buckle 33 minutes into the game. Midway through the second period after a series of failed clearing attempts by the Avalanche defense, Matt Dumba fired a blast through traffic, beating Varlamov and giving the Wild a 1-0 lead.
The third period began with Varlamov staving off a flurry of Minnesota shots, but the Wild would not be denied. After Varlamov robbed Justin Fontaine in the slot, the Avalanche failed to clear the puck and watched a wide open Marco Scandella fire a shot through traffic, off Fontaine, and into the Avalanche net.
With 9:00 remaining in the game the Avalanche earned a rare power play and a chance to start their comeback bid, but back-to-back offensive zone penalties by Jarome Iginla and Gabriel Landeskog turned the 5-on-4 advantage into a 3-on-4 disadvantage in just a matter of seconds. Justin Pominville would ice the game with an empty net goal with 1:02 left on the clock.
Marco Scandella: 1A 3SOG +1 22:19 TOI
Semyon Varlamov: 41 Saves, 2GA, .953 SV%
Darcy Kuemper: 9 Saves, 0GA, .100 SV%
PLAY OF THE GAME
Semyon Varlamov was the best player on the ice for either team and his sprawling left pad save on Zach Parise in the third period will appear near the top of every highlight reel this week.
From the opening puck drop to the final buzzer this game was all Minnesota all the time. The game’s biggest moment then goes to Matt Dumba for his 2nd period game winning goal. The Wild ran away with the game from there as the Avalanche only fired 4 shots on Kuemper in their third period comeback bid.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
“The Avalanche have 55 games to go, the Avs need to win 37 of them. That basically means starting Monday night they gotta win 2 out of every 3. If they don’t, they will not make the playoffs.”
“[Varlamov] was phenomenal and we didn’t play a good game in front of him, there’s no doubt about it. That’s a positive for us I mean the way he played there’s no doubt about it”
In the grand scheme of things the road-weary Avalanche’s loss in Minnesota is a small blip on the 2015-2016 schedule, but from a historical perspective, the Wild have become a serious thorn in the Avs’ side. Whether it’s the Game 7 loss at home in 2014, the back to back shutout losses to open the 2015 season, the monumental collapse in this year’s season opener, or tonight’s hapless effort in Minnesota, there’s no question that the Wild have Colorado’s number. With no plans for realignment in the NHL’s immediate future, the Avalanche are going to see a lot of the Wild in the coming months and years and have to find a way to get past their apparent conniption with this opponent.
The Avalanche return home Monday, December 7th for a rematch against these Minnesota Wild at 7:00 MST.