The Minnesota Wild continued their domination of the Colorado Avalanche this season with a 3-1 victory Saturday at the Pepsi Center.
The fourth line scored two more goals giving them four in the last two games. Erik Haula got the Wild on the board first for the second consecutive game by shooting a puck from behind the goal line off Semyon Varlamov and into the net. Justin Fontaine recorded the primary assist. The two then combined to score the game-winning goal at the 9:09 mark of the second period, seven minutes and 37 seconds after the Avalanche tied the game. Haula took a long pass from Jonas Brodin to start a 2-on-1 rush before sliding a pass across the slot to Fontaine for the open net tally.
The trio nearly had a third goal when Kyle Brodziak whacked a puck out of the air and into the open net from inside his own blue line. It was determined that he knocked the puck into the net with a high stick. While most likely correct, it is amazing that the situation room could determine inconclusively that Brodziak hit the puck with his stick above the cross bar.
Jason Pominville gave the Wild a two-goal lead with 14 minutes and 10 seconds into the third period with a slap shot over the glove shoulder of Varlamov. Pominville faked the shot and nearly lost the puck before ripping the shot through the Avalanche goaltender’s weakness.
The Wild (33-22-7) were forced to kill seven Avalanche power play opportunities. The Avalanche failed to score on all of them and did not generate very many scoring opportunities, including a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage. Devan Dubnyk continues to be the team’s best penalty killer. He made an incredible play to keep the puck out of the net in the final three minutes during a 6-on-4 Avalanche advantage. The puck bounced onto his back and shoulder, but the goaltender contorted and lunged his body away from the goal line.
The Avalanche (27-25-11) tied the game on a controversial call that was absolutely an incorrect one by the NHL’s situation room. They determined that Dubnyk carried the puck across the goal line, and decided there was inconclusive evidence, without the help of Cody McLeod. On the situation room’s blog, they said, “video review determined that the puck completely crossed the Minnesota goal line. Good goal Colorado.” However, they never addressed the issue of McLeod pushing Dubnyk, which forced the puck across the goal line. According to Rule 78.5, which deals with disallowed goals, an apparent goal shall be disallowed “when a goalkeeper has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a save.” That is part nine of the rule. McLeod was all by himself and not helped into Dubnyk. That point is also defined in the “Rebounds and Loose Pucks” portion of the rule book (No. 69.6). The NHL completely got the call wrong.
Dubnyk called the NHL’s decision that McLeod had nothing to do with him carrying the puck across the goal line “mind boggling” to Kevin Gorg on the Fox Sports North postgame show. He is absolutely correct. Mind boggling is a mild way to put it.
If not for that incorrect call, the Wild would have become team since the mid-1920’s to shutout one opponent four times in one season. As it stands, the Wild have outscored the Avalanche 11-1 in the four matchups this season.
The Avalanche are the dirtiest team in the NHL and they proved it throughout the game. It really came to a head in the final seconds when McLeod ran Mikael Granlund off a face off at center ice. McLeod never looked at the puck and went right into Granlund. He was inside the circle and prepared to make the run before the puck was dropped. Dean Morton and Chris Rooney saved McLeod from a suspension and Patrick Roy a fine by not calling an instigator. Then at the conclusion of the fight between McLeod and Charlie Coyle, the Avalanche’s leader and captain, Gabriel Landeskog punched Mikko Koivu while both players were on their respective benches.
The two teams finish their season series on March at the Xcel Energy Center.
No. 3 – Devan Dubnyk. The Wild goaltender stopped 33 shots.
No. 2 – Erik Haula. The Wild forward had a goal and an assist.
No. 1 – Justin Fontaine. The Wild forward recorded a goal and an assist.
Minnesota……1 1 1 – 3
Colorado…..…0 1 0 – 1
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Haula 9 (Fontaine, Brodziak), 10:49. Penalties – Scandella, MIN (slashing), 5:24.
Second Period – 2, Colorado, Talbot 5 (Holden), 1:32. 3, Minnesota, Fontaine 8 (Haula, Brodin), 9:09. Penalties – Bergenheim, MIN (hooking), 3:15; Stuart, COL (cross checking), 6:58; Koivu, MIN (tripping), 10:41; MacKinnon, COL (interference), 11:27; Bench, MIN (too many men; served by Schroeder), 12:06; Fontaine, MIN (tripping), 12:59; Redmond, COL (hooking), 17:13.
Third Period – 4, Minnesota, Pominville 13 (Granlund), 5:50. Penalties – Brodziak, MIN, major (fighting), 4:50; Guenin, COL, major (fighting), 4:50; Barrie, COL (roughing), 6:33; Folin, MIN (delay of game-puck over glass), 10:31; Prosser, MIN (high sticking), 16:43; Coyle, MIN, major (fighting), 19:56; McLeod, COL (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:56; McLeod, COL, misconduct (10-minute), 19:56; McLeod, COL, major (fighting), 19:56; Landeskog, COL, misconduct (10-minute), 19:56.
Shots on goal – Minnesota 8-11-13 32. Colorado 8-10-16 34.
Goalies – Minnesota, Dubnyk (33-34). Colorado, Varlamov (29-32). Referees – Dean Morton, Chris Rooney. Linesmen – Kiel Murchison, Vaughan Rody.