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Avalanche 5, Wild 4

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DENVER - Center John Mitchell had a goal and an assist, center Matt Duchene had two assists and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night.

Centers Ryan O'Reilly, Paul Stastny, Nathan MacKinnon and Maxime Talbot also scored for Colorado.

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov had 31 saves for the Avalanche.

Left wing Zach Parise had two goals and an assist and center Mikael Granlund also scored for Minnesota, which finished the season 1-4 against Colorado.

Right Wing Jason Pominville scored his 22nd of the season for the Wild.

Thursday's loss left the Wild nine points behind third-place Colorado in the Central Division, with the Avalanche having played three fewer games.

The Wild were playing well before Thursday, going 9-3-1 in January and getting into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. The return of Parise four games ago bolstered an offense that was clicking.

He had a goal and two assists against Anaheim on Tuesday, and he tied the game at 1-1 early in the first period Thursday.

It stayed that way until the Avalanche exploded for three goals in the second period. Mitchell's wrist shot 1:43 into the frame broke the tie. Stastny scored on a rebound midway through the period, and Talbot made it 4-1 when he used Kyle Brodziak's stick to score his sixth of the season at 15:26.

A minute later, Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper was pulled in favor of Niklas Backstrom.

Kuemper finished with 19 saves.

Backstrom kept Minnesota in it, and Parise scored 7:47 into the third to make it a two-goal game. It was his 18th goal of the season.

Granlund made it 4-3 with 7:09 left in the game, and MacKinnon appeared to put it away with a breakaway goal at 17:35.

Pominville answered 11 seconds later, and Backstrom went off for an extra skater with 1:07 remaining. but Minnesota couldn't tie it.

The Wild appeared to have survived Colorado's best in the first period. O'Reilly gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead with his 20th of the season 4:41 into the game.

After Parise tied it on the power play, the Avalanche got three straight power plays but could not capitalize on them.

Minnesota had the best scoring chance during one of the power plays when Brodziak went in alone on Varlamov, but the goalie made the save to keep it tied.

NOTES: The Avalanche signed G Semyon Varlamov to a five-year contract extension through the 2018-19 season. Varlamov is enjoying his best season since Colorado acquired him from the Washington Capitals on July 1, 2011. ... Minnesota D Jared Spurgeon skated with the team Thursday morning, and he could return to the lineup as early as Saturday. Spurgeon was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury Jan. 4. ... Avalanche RW P.A. Parenteau was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Parenteau played three games after missing the previous 10 with a sprained knee. ... Wild G Josh Harding is on injured reserve due to an illness but has begun skating again.
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