Wild take it to Avalanche again
DENVER -- Zach Parise saves his best for the Colorado Avalanche.So does the entire Minnesota Wild team, and that domination has moved it closer to the postseason.Parise followed Thursday's hat trick with two goals, Devan Dubnyk had 29 saves for h...
DENVER - Zach Parise saves his best for the Colorado Avalanche.
So does the entire Minnesota Wild team, and that domination has moved it closer to the postseason.
Parise followed Thursday’s hat trick with two goals, Devan Dubnyk had 29 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, and the Wild beat Colorado 4-0 on Saturday to grab control of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist and Jordan Schroeder also scored for Wild.
Minnesota has 85 points to lead Colorado by five for the second wild card. The Wild (37-28-11) have six games remaining and the Avalanche seven.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, but I think we put ourselves in a good spot,” Parise said. “We’ve still got some tough games coming up and games we’ve got to win, but we like the position we’re in now as opposed to having come in and lost here.”
Semyon Varlamov stopped 31 shots for Colorado, which has dropped two in a row and is in danger of missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
The Avalanche played their third straight game without Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, the team’s top scorers, because of knee injuries. Duchene has missed four games with the injury and Colorado is 1-2 without the pair.
“We got outplayed, it got away from us and now we’re going to have to watch and win some games and hope against a little fortune for the Wild,” Jarome Iginla said.
“Unfortunately, now it’s not as much in our hands.”
If Colorado (38-33-4) can’t catch the Wild, it can look back to the season series against the Central Division rival. Minnesota went 4-0-1 against the Avalanche, and set the tone on opening night by rallying from a three-goal deficit in the third period to win in regulation.
The Avalanche got back in the playoff race when Minnesota went 1-11-2 in January and early February, but since interim head coach John Torchetti took over on Feb. 15, the Wild are 14-6-1 and have won a season-high five in a row.
Colorado isn’t ready to concede the season.
“When you think about where we were in November we never quit, so why should we quit today?” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “I know the schedule doesn’t favor us, I hear it.
“But at the same time, we have a game in hand. Let’s just play our games and play the way we’re capable of.”
At least they’re done with Minnesota and Parise, who has six goals against the Avalanche this season and 30 points in 26 career games against them.
The Wild are 12-2-1 against Colorado since Game 2 of the 2014 Western Conference quarterfinals, a series Minnesota won in seven games.
“It’s just one of those teams, I guess,” Parise said. “Our team has done a really good job against these guys. Going back a few years, we’ve played some huge games against them; we’ve always played well here.”
Minnesota started Saturday’s rout when Parise stole a pass at Colorado’s blue line, gave it to Granlund, who sent it back to Parise for an easy goal at 11:27 of the second.
“We had a great first period, a lot of intensity to start the game,” Iginla said. “We did what we wanted to and we were doing it for a bit in the second and they had a bounce and got that first goal.”
The Wild made it 2-0 in the final minute of the second when Schroeder chipped Marco Scandella’s pass over Varlamov’s shoulder for his second goal of the season.
Parise’s 24th goal of the season and fifth in the last two games gave the Wild a 3-0 lead at 4:55 of the third.
Varlamov briefly came off for an extra skater with the Avalanche on the power play with 9:04 left, but Granlund scored into the empty net 10 seconds into the man advantage