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Colorado Avalanche

Mooseheads Duo Leads Avalanche To Big Win Over Wild



Avalanche drouin mackinnon

The salary cap might limit the reunion to just one season, but the Colorado Avalanche have benefited in a big way by reuniting Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.

Both MacKinnon and Drouin registered three points each, as the Avalanche went into Minnesota and shoved a dagger through the heart of the Wild’s playoff hopes with a 5-2 win. With the victory, Colorado keeps pace with the Dallas Stars and moves back to within three points of the Central Division lead.

Another big reason the Avalanche pulled out the win? The play of Justus Annunen in net, who bounced back from a sub-par performance on Monday with a career high 44 save game. Alexandar Georgiev will step back into the net tomorrow against the Oilers.

Artturi Lehkonen and Mikko Rantanen provided the non-Mooseheads scoring for the Avalanche.

First Period

Colorado needed a hot start and they got one, as they really came out shooting. Not every shot hit the net, but a heck of a lot of them did. In total, the Avalanche generated 35 shot attempts in period one at even strength, with 17 of them hitting the net. Not bad at all.

The Avalanche got on the board early, as Gustavsson was very generous with his rebounds early. After Casey Mittelstadt won a face-off in the offensive zone, a Jack Johnson point shot was too much for the Wild goalie to handle. The rebound spit out into the slot, where Artturi Lehkonen was there to send it five-hole, making it 1-0.

Minnesota answered back pretty quickly, with Mason Shaw outmuscling Mittelstadt for positioning on the forecheck. That gave him time and space to hit Lettieri, who one-timed a shot past Annunen. A split-second of time was all the Wild needed, but the rest of the period belonged to the Avalanche.

A scrum in the defensive zone led to Colorado coming away with the puck, and Kaprizov tripping Cale Makar, sending the Avalanche to their first powerplay. Colorado got a bit lucky, as Kiviranta tripped Eriksson-Ek at the same time, but the refs didn’t see that one.

It took just eight seconds for Colorado to capitalize, as Cale Makar’s point shot bounced up in the air off Gustavsson, behind him, and Drouin smacked it out of mid-air into the net, making it 2-1.

Rantanen hit the post late in the period, but the score stayed the same heading into the intermission.

Second Period

Colorado came out and jumped on the Wild on the opening shift of the second period. A Nathan MacKinnon shot stayed on the ice, allowing a wide-open Drouin to tip home his second of the game. It’s very possible MacKinnon meant to aim for Drouin’s stick, because he’s just that good. Either way, Colorado had a two goal lead and control of the game.

Or so it seemed.

Colorado got themselves in penalty trouble halfway through the period, giving Minnesota life. The Wild had a brief 5-on-3 that they couldn’t take advantage of, but as soon as it became a 5-on-4, Minnesota cut the lead in half. Minnesota capitalized on a tired PK group, which included Mikko Rantanen, who doesn’t kill penalties. Chisholm blasted one past Annunen on the glove side, and it was 3-2.

The rest of the period belonged to the Wild, who dominated in shots. Justus Annunen shut the door, stopping 17 of 18 in the middle period to keep the Avalanche ahead.

Third Period

Annunen held strong again in the third period, stopping 17 more shots and keeping the Wild off the scoresheet. The Avalanche spent a lot of time in their own end, but a goal six minutes in gave them some breathing room, as the Halifax duo did it again.

Drouin and MacKinnon put Brock Faber in a blender, as he didn’t know which way to look. Drouin hit MacKinnon with a pass, and the star center beat Gustavsson easily, making it 4-2.

Mikko Rantanen added an empty net goal to seal it, and put an end to any realistic chance the Wild had of making the playoffs.

Colorado will have no time to rest, as they’ll head to Edmonton tomorrow to take on the Oilers. That game starts at 7 PM MST, and the Avalanche could get Valeri Nichushkin and Yakov Trenin back for the big game.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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