Published March 14, 2013
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Rookie defenseman Jonas Brodin's first NHL score highlighted a three-goal second period by the Minnesota Wild in a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
Devin Setoguchi and Mikko Koivu also scored in the decisive middle frame. Ryan Suter had a season-high three assists and Matt Cullen and Zach Parise each had two assists to help the Wild improve to 10-3-1 at home and bounce back from a stinging loss two nights ago. Koivu added an empty-netter with 33 seconds remaining to seal it.
P.A. Parenteau had two goals for the Avalanche, the second with 13:17 left in the game to prevent the Wild from coasting to the finish. Gabe Landeskog also scored and Erik Johnson had two assists for the Avs, but they were outshot 40-32.
Minnesota got the opening goal for the sixth straight game when Torrey Mitchell, whose apparent score against Anaheim here Tuesday was waved off after a video review, sent a shot through goalie Semyon Varmalov's armpit barely 3 minutes in.
The Wild led the Ducks for most of that matchup and held a 22-7 shots advantage through the first two periods before giving up a late goal and losing 2-1 in regulation. Their forecheck was fierce again two nights later, and with Pierre-Marc Bouchard moved up to the second line the trio with him, Cullen and Setoguchi were especially buzzing all over the ice.
Cullen faked a shot so well in the second period that Avs defenseman Greg Zanon fell as he reacted, giving Cullen a clear path toward the net. Varmalov turned aside his shot, but Setoguchi was there to knock in the rebound to give the Wild a 2-1 lead.
Brodin, one of a handful of well-regarded prospects the Wild have begun to work into their lineup, has played beyond his years on the blue line with the veteran Suter. He sent a snap shot past Varmalov from the left circle less than 2 minutes later.
Landeskog answered in 23 seconds, but the Wild pushed the lead back to two just 66 seconds after that with one of the prettiest goals they've ever scored.
Parise and Suter, naturally, were in the middle of it, as was Koivu, the captain and center of the first line. Parise brought the puck up the right wing and passed it to Suter, who sent it right back to his buddy. Parise drew Varmalov out and zipped the puck through the slot to Koivu, whose one-timer found the back of the wide-open net while Varmalov was still out of the crease on the other side.
Suter is second in the NHL among defensemen with 20 assists, in just 26 games. Jared Spurgeon led Wild blue-liners with 20 assists over a full season in 2011-12.
Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves for the Wild.
These teams play again on Saturday in Denver.
After handing Chicago its first regulation loss of the season last week and following that with a win in overtime over San Jose, the Avalanche have stumbled. They were beaten 4-0 by Edmonton on Tuesday, and this wasn't much better despite their third-period push.
Milan Hejduk returned to the lineup, at least, after missing five games because of what he called a stiff neck. He replaced David Jones on the first line with Landeskog and Paul Stastny. Jones moved down to the third line with John Mitchell and Ryan O'Reilly.
NOTES: After a violent blindside collision with Corey Perry that brought the Anaheim RW a four-game suspension, Wild LW Jason Zucker was held out with what the team has called an upper-body injury. ... Wild D Brett Clark, the 36-year-old signed this week for the rest of the season, was scratched from his first game with the team. Clark played five-plus seasons for the Avalanche. ... The Wild traded D Chay Genoway, who'd been with their AHL affiliate all season, to Washington for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2014.