By: Mike Berg
Tonight I watched the Avalanche feed of the game.
The Wild began where they left off two nights before, buzzing early in the Avalanche zone, followed by a quick goal by Charlie Coyle off a Ryan Suter shot. The Avalanche came back and made a game of it by the middle of the first period, generating chances. While the Avalanche were able to generate momentum on a Power Play, the Wild came back with their own man advantage and peppered shots on Varlamov.
Players I noticed in the first were Granlund, who is relentless on the puck, and Brodin, who helped set up the shot on which Coyle scored, and who makes clearing the puck out of trouble look so easy. Kuemper had to make some sensational saves in the first as well.
The second period began rather disjointedly, with an ugly power play for the Wild. And then, oh boy, Erik Johnson stepped in it, nailing Erik Haula with a dirty flying elbow. You have to wonder if this is what Patrick Roy was referring to about a Wild player getting hurt. The action was back and forth until Coyle appeared to get his second of the night, but Hejda pushed Nino Niederreiter into Varlamov, negating the goal. And then the always classy Gabriel "We don't do that sort of thing" Landeskog tried to take Nino's head off, before Zucker put in a beauty from Vanek.
I honestly couldn't notice anyone in the second period because the stream I was watching kept cutting out. Well, other than Erik Johnson wanting to be the only Erik in the game and trying to take out Haula. What I did see was Kuemper continuing to play strong in net.
The third frame was also back and forth, with some chances both ways, but overall the Avalanche playing desperate, aggressive hockey. The power play the Wild got midway through the period - from a couple of Avalanche delay of game calls - was a real mess. They couldn't get into the zone or gain momentum, despite having nearly four minutes of power play time, again, primarily attributable to the Aves playing an aggressive penalty kill. The end of the game was hairy after Roy pulled Varlamov and Cooke slashed Barrie, leading to a late 6 on 4.
Once again, Kuemper was strong in net. Parise scored an empty netter, and he had to work for it, scoring from below the goal line.
The Wild had to work for this win. They deserved it. Another shutout, but nothing like the season opener.
Despite the more difficult win, not every team wins two home openers: ours and theirs.
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