Score Strip

Wild ride three early goals to 6-4 win over Avalanche

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche came out fighting, ready to protect home ice and avenge a loss Thursday in Minnesota.

Ryan O'Byrne dropped the gloves 32 seconds in, John Mitchell was mixing it up and the Avalanche were showing they meant business. The Wild simply survived the surge and then scored three early goals to take the air out of Pepsi Center.

Colorado made a push, but it wasn't enough against the surging Wild. Devin Setoguchi had two goals and an assist, Niklas Backstrom stopped 28 shots and Minnesota beat the Avalanche 6-4 on Saturday.

Ryan Suter and Pierre-March Bouchard had a goal and assist each for the Wild, who swept the home-and-home with Colorado.

"Any time you can get a start like that, it's tough for teams to come back from," Setoguchi said. "When you get one early, you seem to be involved throughout the game. We got off to the jump early and it keeps us going."

Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak also had goals for Minnesota (15-10-2).

Setoguchi's big game included a career-best plus-4, which helped Backstrom improve to 23-5-3 all-time against Colorado.

The Wild have won four of their last five to tie Vancouver, which plays Saturday night, for first in the Northwest Division. They've benefited from beating the Avalanche twice in less than 48 hours.

The Wild has 18 goals and is 3-0-1 against Colorado this season. They've scored 16 goals in their last four games overall.

Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and an assist and P.A. Parenteau, Chuck Kobasew and Mitchell also scored for the Avalanche, who have dropped three straight.

"We're not having fun right now," said Matt Duchene, who had two assists. "You don't have fun when you lose. It sounds cheesy, but if you bring the fun back, it brings the confidence back and we start playing better hockey. Confidence is everything right now and we don't have it."

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere didn't have it in his first home start, which wasn't a pleasant one for the veteran. He allowed three goals on 10 shots in the first 9:04. He didn't get much help from his skaters, who were still searching for the loose puck on two of the Wild goals.

Suter and Setoguchi scored 1:44 apart early in the first period and Clutterbuck made it 3-0 midway through when he shot one through the legs of Giguere from a bad angle.

Mitchell scored with at 14:11 of the first to make it 3-1, but Brodziak answered three minutes later.

"It's not typical Wild hockey, but I don't think we're expecting to score four goals in the first period every game," Clutterbuck said. "We're scoring more goals on the breakout because we're doing good things offensively."

Semyon Varlamov replaced Giguere to start the second period, and it sparked the Avalanche (10-13-4). Parenteau and Landeskog scored to cut the lead to one. The momentum was gone when Bouchard stole Landeskog's pass to Ryan O'Reilly in the center of the Colorado and scored at 12:02 made it 5-3.

"I throw that puck into the middle and it doesn't connect with Ryan. Any team is going to capitalize on those chances," the Avalanche captain said. "It's deflating especially because we battled back so hard and got back to 4-3 and then I throw that puck away. It's frustrating."

Setoguchi's goal midway through the third made it a three-goal game before Kobasew scored with 1:53 left. Varlamov was pulled for an extra skater, but Colorado couldn't get any closer.

It was Colorado's second straight home loss. Since ending the Chicago Blackhawks' historic run March 8, the Avalanche beat San Jose but have struggled since.

"We're a good hockey team, we've shown it," Duchene said. "We've beaten some unbelievable hockey teams and played some great games this season, but right now you just can't have starts like that. Everyone tightens up and it's too little too late."

NOTES: Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk was a healthy scratch. Hejduk missed five games with a torso injury but played in Minnesota on Thursday. ... Wild forward Jason Zucker missed his second game in a row with an upper body injury. Zucker suffered the injury Tuesday when he was checked by Anaheim's Corey Perry. Perry received a four-game suspension for the hit. ... Colorado defenseman Ryan Wilson was out after aggravating his injured ankle. He suffered the injury Feb. 2 against the Edmonton Oilers and missed 15 games before returning Sunday against the San Jose Sharks. ... Minnesota defenseman Brett Clark, signed earlier this week, was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. ... The NHL changed the scoring on a Colorado goal from Thursday. Originally, Parenteau was credited with the Avalanche's third goal in the 5-3 loss to Minnesota, but it was changed to Duchene, his 12th goal of the season.
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