ST. PAUL-J.T. Compher scored two goals Tuesday night while Semyon Varlamov stopped 33 shots as the Colorado Avalanche started a brief, critical late-season road trip with a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Nikita Zadorov, Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Jost also lit the lamp for Colorado, which tied Dallas for the two Western Conference wild-card positions at 82 points apiece. The Avalanche and the Stars hold a two-point edge on the idle Anaheim Ducks for the last playoff spots.
Mikko Koivu scored the only goal for third-place Minnesota, which missed on a chance to gain ground in the Central Division on second-place Winnipeg, a 3-1 loser in Nashville. The Wild stay seven points behind the Jets, meaning they would open the playoffs at Winnipeg unless they can mount a charge.
Compher opened the scoring at 16:22 of the first period, belying Minnesota's clear advantages in possession and shot attempts. After drawing a delayed hooking penalty that would have given the Avalanche a power play, Compher beat Devan Dubnyk with a short-side wrister from the right circle.
The Wild continued to drive play in the second period, finally breaking through at 13:56. During a stretch of four-on-four play, Koivu took a pass from Charlie Coyle and finished a two-on-one rush by chipping a wrister past Varlamov at the left post for his 13th goal.
Zadorov gave Colorado the lead for good just 59 seconds later. Blake Comeau fed him in the high slot, and Zadorov blistered a one-timer for his seventh marker.
MacKinnon put Minnesota in chase mode just 11 seconds into the third period, speeding down the right wing and flicking a wrister between Dubnyk's glove and the post for his 33rd goal of the season.
Compher put it away on the power play at 13:26 with his 13th goal, marking the first two-goal game of his career. The Wild challenged for goaltender interference on Carl Soderberg, but the NHL's Situation Room in Toronto upheld the call on the ice.
Jost's ninth tally on a power play at 18:39 capped the scoring.
Dubnyk finished with 17 saves.