Tired and sloppy, the Colorado Avalanche somehow snuck out of Minnesota with two points.
They can thank their goaltender for that.
Behind the stellar play of Alexandar Georgiev, the Avalanche went into Minnesota and stole two points, coming away with a 3-2 victory in regulation. Georgiev’s goaltending, some timely goals, and a boost on the backend courtesy of Josh Manson’s return were just enough for the Avalanche to move ahead of the Wild in the standings and give themselves some breathing room.
Andrew Cogliano, Denis Malgin, and Nathan MacKinnon scored the goals for the Avalanche. MacKinnon also added an assist.
Georgiev stopped 41 of the 43 shots he faced.
Joel Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov scored for the Wild.
As expected, the rested Wild came on strong in the first period and attacked the Avalanche.
Georgiev was there to hold down the fort, stopping all 17 shots the Wild sent his way. He got some help from the goal post early in the game, but held up well against a lot of traffic.
The Avalanche did not generate much offense, but they did generate the only goal of the period.
With under five minutes remaining, Cogliano struck first. After a nice breakout by Sam Girard, Devon Toews slid the puck under Alex Goligoski’s stick to a streaking Cogliano. The veteran winger fired it underneath Fleury’s glove to give the Avalanche the one goal lead.
They had a chance to extend the lead late in the period with a powerplay, but were unable to capitalize, taking the one goal advantage into the intermission.
The Wild continued to control the play in the second period, but their goaltender was a bit of an issue.
Just 2:20 into the period, Malgin took a pass from MacKinnon and entered the zone between multiple Wild defenders. He let a wrist shot go off a rolling puck, and it fooled Fleury, beating the veteran goaltender and giving the Avalanche a two goal lead.
The Wild finally solved Georgiev on the powerplay later in the period, and it took a deflection to beat him. Eriksson Ek deflected a Zuccarello shot into the net, and the Avalanche lead was back to one.
It took the Avalanche 14 minutes to register another shot on net after Malgin’s goal, but they made it count.
Off a nice breakout play, MacKinnon found himself streaking down the right wing all alone. He let a quick low shot go that beat Fleury through the five hole. The two goal lead for the Avalanche was restored.
Despite being outshot 30 to 10, the Avalanche had a two goal lead heading into the third period.
Kaprizov worked some magic in the third period to get the Wild within one goal, but that was as close as they got. The third period was far and away the Avalanche’s best, as they pushed the play, and Georgiev made big saves when needed, including a glove stop on Kaprizov late. It was just enough for the Avalanche to hold on for a massive 3-2 win.
The victory moves the Avalanche two points ahead of the Wild in the division. The two teams will meet each one more time this season, when they face-off at Ball Arena in late March.
The Avalanche now head to St. Louis to take on the struggling Blues this Saturday. The game starts at 12 PM MST.