With 10 games left in the 2018-2019 NHL season, every game is meaningful and every point counts. In this game, two huge points were on the line. Luckily for the Colorado Avalanche, they managed to snag both of them without giving any to the Minnesota Wild.
The Avalanche’s 3-1 road victory against the Wild on Tuesday night proved to be even more crucial due to the fact that both teams are currently neck and neck in the playoff race and looking to seize that final wild card spot. It was certainly a playoff atmosphere inside Xcel Energy Center, and the Avalanche were able to channel more urgency than the Wild in order to get the win.
The game began with a goal from defenseman Tyson Barrie a little over 10 minutes into the first period. The 27-year-old picked up the loose puck in the high slot area and then unloaded a blistering slap shot top shelf stick side on Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk to put his team up 1-0.
However, less than two minutes into the second stanza, the Wild would tie the game up. While on the power play, defenseman Ryan Suter fired a rather harmless wrist shot on net. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, left-winger Zach Parise managed to get his stick on the puck and deflect it past goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
More bad luck for the Avalanche ensued after the team thought they had regained the lead with less than eight minutes left in the frame. However, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau challenged for goaltender interference and the goal was waived off. After further review, it turned out that forward Carl Soderberg had made contact with Dubnyk a few seconds before forward Colin Wilson put the puck into the net.
Despite the possible momentum shifting goal reversal, the Avalanche didn’t let that misfortune deflate their spirits. Less than a minute later, the Wild turned the puck over high in the Avalanche’s defensive zone. Wilson then wired a stretch pass up ice to forward Tyson Jost who was cherry picking at the Wild’s blue line. While on a breakaway, the 21-year-old flipped a back-handed shot upstairs, over Dubnyk’s glove, off the crossbar, and into the back of the net to put his team up 2-1.
Although the Wild applied a tone of pressure on the Avalanche in the third and final period. Grubauer made multiple terrific saves and finished the game with 36 stops on 37 shots. An empty net goal from 190 feet away by defenseman Ian Cole with less than two minutes left in the game would seal the deal for the Avalanche.
The Avalanche will have a chance to jump back into a playoff spot for the first time in a while on Thursday night as the team completes their two-game road trip against the Dallas Stars. At the moment, the Avalanche sit just two points back of the Arizona Coyotes who currently hold the final wild card spot.
Right now, the Avalanche have 76 points and 32-29-12 record with 73 games played while the Coyotes have 78 points and a 36-31-6 record with 74 games played. An Avalanche victory against the Stars and a Coyotes regulation loss against the Florida Panthers on Thursday would give the final playoff spot back to the Avalanche.