The result of this game won’t mean anything in two weeks, but Colorado Avalanche hockey is back.
No, the Avalanche didn’t get the result they wanted, but that ultimately doesn’t matter. The two lines that contained players likely to play in the NHL this season looked good, but the Avalanche were unable to walk away with a win, falling 4-3 to the Minnesota Wild. A strong performance from Justus Annunen may be the most important note on the evening, as he stopped 14 of the 15 shots sent his way.
The game started with the new-look third line for the Avalanche kicking things off, and it was Miles Wood who made an early impression on fans. On his opening shift, he crashed the net for a shot, and then laid the body on a Wild forward, sending him to the ice. That shift gave Colorado some momentum to start things out, and they quickly took advantage.
The second line for the evening, consisting of three former Dallas Stars players, capitalized just over 4 minutes into the first. Fredrik Olofsson went to pass to Riley Tufte, but his pass his a Wild skate and bounced right to the stick of Joel Kiviranta. The forward, who is in camp on a PTO, fired a wrist shot past the blocker of Jesper Wallstedt, giving Colorado the early 1-0 lead.
Colorado killed two penalties late in the period, and Justus Annunen held down the fort, stopping all 7 shots he faced. The Avalanche carried that one goal lead into the second period.
The reality of preseason hockey really set in during period two, as penalties and sloppy play were the theme. Colorado took two early penalties (on questionable calls), and that allowed the Wild to get on the board.
Both Avalanche defenseman got caught sliding around on the penalty kill, leaving Sammy Walker wide open in front of the net. He slipped a shot under the pads of Annunen, tying the game at one.
The majority of Colorado’s chances the rest of the period came from the Dallas line. Riley Tufte had numerous good opportunities, but missed the net on a few of them.
Arvid Holm took over for Annunen halfway through the period, but was not really tested, facing only two shots. Wallstedt stopped all 10 shots the Avalanche sent his way in the second, and the game entered the third period tied at one.
Colorado had an early powerplay that created chances, but were unable to find the back of the net. Soon after, the Wild took the lead. A tough turnover by Saige Weinstein led to some chaos in the Avalanche end, with Sammy Walker putting home his second of the night, giving the Wild the 2-1 lead.
That goal seemed to wake Colorado up, and the Dallas line created a lot of momentum for them. A long shift in the offensive zone by that trio didn’t create a goal, but wore down the Wild defenders. Those three changed on the fly, and the fresh players for Colorado tied the game up, with Henry Bowlby putting a rebound past Wallstedt.
The Wild would get the next one on the powerplay, as Sam Malinski took his first of two high-sticking penalties in the third period. Khairi outmuscled Jack Johnson in front for the rebound, giving the Wild the 3-2 lead. Colorado got caught pushing hard late, giving up a 2-on-0 that Lettieri would finish to seal the game at 4-2. Riley Tufte scored with under 10 seconds left, but at that point, the game was over, as the Wild walked away with the 4-3 win.
Colorado will be back at it Monday night, taking on the Vegas Golden Knights at home. The game starts at 7 PM MST.