ST. PAUL, Minn. – You can’t live on just Cale alone.
That has to be the lesson for the Colorado Avalanche, who got another star performance from Cale Makar, but not much from anyone else in that finished as a disappointing 3-2 loss to the mediocre Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center, where good seats were still available. That finished the road trip with a 3-2 record. Not bad at all for a team with so many injuries.
But this still felt like a bad loss.
You can’t get a big head in this league, and the Avs, for too much of the time in this one, looked like that team of a couple weeks ago that seemed to just think they could throw their sticks out on the ice and that would be enough.
Makar scored two goals to bring the Avs back from a 2-0 second-period deficit, but a Jason Zucker goal with 10:02 left in the game proved enough for goalie Alex Stalock. It was a goal in which Philipp Grubauer stopped an initial shot, but lost sight of the puck, not realizing it was right on the goal line. Unaware of where it was and with Avs defenders too slow to react, Zucker snuck in and poked it home for the winner.
The Avs a really bad first 20 minutes, maybe their worst period of the season. Grubauer kept it scoreless after the period, though, looking cat-quick on his feet. But the Avs came out even worse to start the second, and the Wild finally made them pay with a power-play goal at 1:48. Then, the Avs’ top line, with Ian Cole and Sam Girard on the ice, got totally worked over on a second goal.
The shots at that point were 15-6 for the Wild.
Then, Makar came to the rescue, scoring goals at 14:19 and 18:49. The second goal was a true thing of beauty, a multi-deke wrister.
TAKEAWAYS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I thought J.T. Compher had the game tied for sure with eight minutes left, but his one-timer got the right post.
- That’s 91 straight games now without a goal for Valeri Nichushkin. I mean, this streak has to end some time, right? Right?
- Nathan MacKinnon was probably a little too fancy and unselfish tonight. He had an assist on the first Makar goal, but passed some a couple of good chances of his own and finished with just two shots.
- Two of the three Avs’ minor-leaguer forwards – T.J. Tynan and Jayson Megna – took penalties in the second period. That’s the kind of thing they can’t do if they want to stick around, if they aren’t going to score, that is.
- I thought Joonas Donskoi played well, but was a bit unlucky around the net. He had a good road trip, though.
- Avs will practice at noon Friday in Denver.