MacKinnon helps Avs fend off Wild
Denver, CO (SportsNetwork.com) - Rookie Nathan MacKinnon's breakaway goal with 2:25 remaining in the third period wound up being the game-winner as the Colorado Avalanche fended off the Minnesota Wild 5-4 at Pepsi Center.
The Avalanche entered the third with a 4-1 lead, but the Wild got two goals before MacKinnon beat Minnesota netminder Niklas Backstrom on the glove side.
Jason Pominville then crashed the crease and directed in Mikael Granlund's pass to make it a one-goal game again 11 seconds later.
The Wild, however, couldn't complete the comeback as Colorado held on to finish 4-0-1 against its Central Division rival this season.
Ryan O'Reilly, Paul Stastny, John Mitchell and Maxime Talbot also scored for the Avalanche, who prevailed in a matchup of two teams that entered play Thursday with identical 9-3-1 records in January.
On a day he signed a five-year, $29.5 million contract extension, Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves.
Zach Parise registered two goals and two assists for Minnesota, while Granlund had a goal and two helpers.
Backstrom stopped eight shots in relief of Darcy Kuemper, who was yanked from the game after allowing four goals on 23 shots.
Parise's second goal trimmed the Wild's deficit to 4-2 at 7:47 of the third. He gathered Pominville's pass and fired a wrister from the left circle that beat Varlamov's glove on the far side.
Granlund lit the lamp a little over five minutes later. Varlamov turned away Keith Ballard's bid from the right wing, but Parise picked up the rebound and dished to Granlund, who put the puck into an open net at 12:51.
"They do a lot of good things and we got away from what we do best," Pominville said. "When we got back to that, I mean, they couldn't handle the way we were playing so we have to get back to that, be more consistent at doing that night-in-and-night-out."
O'Reilly opened the scoring 4:41 into the contest. Matt Duchene carried the puck into the Minnesota zone and dished to the right circle, where O'Reilly scored on a hard wrister.
Parise quickly tied the game on a power play, sweeping in Ryan Suter's deflected point shot at 6:16 of the first period.
The Avalanche took control by scoring three times in the second period.
Mitchell put them back on top with a wrister from the high slot at 1:43, then Stastny buried a rebound at 9:17.
Talbot was credited with Colorado's fourth goal at 15:26. As he went to take a whack at a Mitchell rebound, it appeared Talbot made contact with the stick of Minnesota's Kyle Brodziak before the puck. Brodziak wound up putting the puck in his own net.
"Max made that play happen so, they gave him credit for the goal and he earned it and deserved that," Mitchell said.
The Avalanche were 0-for-5 on the power play Thursday. They failed to score on all 12 opportunities with the man advantage against the Wild this season ... Varlamov earned his career-high 27th win and set a franchise record for wins in January with 10 ... Kuemper started his ninth straight game for the Wild ... Colorado forward PA Parenteau was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game ... The Wild wrap up a four-game road trip Saturday at Calgary.
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