Wild catch a break late, but lose in overtime to Avalanche

DENVER – The Wild and Avalanche had opposite strategies at the NHL trade deadline.

While the Wild were sellers, Colorado was a buyer, amassing a haul that included scooping up a player from the Wild.

But in the debut of each team's revamped lineup, the side preparing for a Stanley Cup run was almost outplayed by the one struggling to even advance to the playoffs.


The Avalanche needed overtime to shrug off the Wild 2-1 at Ball Arena on Friday night and send them back to Minnesota with a split on their two-game road trip.

Colorado's Valeri Nichushkin broke a 1-1 tie on a 4-on-3 power play with 2 minutes, 28 seconds left in overtime after an unsuccessful penalty shot by Mats Zuccarello late in the third period but successful challenge by the Wild to overturn an Avalanche goal.

Still, this was a much better finish than start by the Wild.

Colorado capitalized on the first shot during the game's first shift just 42 seconds into the first period, a five-hole backhander by Artturi Lehkonen set up by – who else? – Nathan MacKinnon.

That assist extended MacKinnon's point streak on home ice to a whopping 32 games, the second-longest season-opening point streak at home in NHL history. MacKinnon trails only Wayne Gretzky's 40-game record set in 1988-89 with Los Angeles.

The NHL's leading scorer, MacKinnon was coming off back-to-back four-point performances and his early dish looked like it could be the beginning of another masterpiece by the superstar center; the assist was MacKinnon's 70th, the first time he's reached that plateau in his career.

But penalty trouble stalled the Avalanche even though the Wild blanked on two first-period chances and two more in the second to go 0-for-4; the Wild put Colorado on the power play twice during that choppy first and then again in the third period but denied all three opportunities. But their fourth penalty in overtime, a hooking call against Kirill Kaprizov, didn't have the same outcome.

Goaltender Filip Gustavsson was a factor in those penalty kills during regulation, but he was just as sharp when the Wild were on the power play: The Avalanche had three shorthanded shots, but Gustavsson fended off all three looks as part of his 39-save night.

The Wild were competitive despite reasons not to be.

Earlier in the day, the Wild traded Pat Maroon to Boston and Connor Dewar to Toronto after sending Duhaime to the Avalanche on Thursday – subtracting roster players for draft picks and prospects in preparation for the future amid a murky present.

Across the ice, Duhaime was one of four new faces suiting up for a Colorado squad that's vying for the top spot in the Central Division, but the Avalanche weren't dominating and that opened the door for the Wild.

Finally, at 10:44 of the second, Brock Faber wired in his second goal in as many games by goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, who totaled 29 saves.

With 37 points, Faber passed Marian Gaborik for the third-most single-season point total by a Wild rookie.

This stalemate held for the rest of the second and for much of the third; that in itself was a success story for the Wild, who had won 5-2 at Arizona the previous night while Colorado rested after its retool. Besides Duhaime, the Avalanche added Eden Prairie's Casey Mittelstadt, another forward in Yakov Trenin and defenseman Sean Walker.

The Wild could have moved ahead when Zuccarello was awarded a penalty shot late in the third after Andrew Cogliano funneled a broken stick at Zuccarello while he had the puck, but Zuccarello's shot went wide. Soon after, Kaprizov couldn't convert on a breakaway.

Then with 2:20 left, Devon Toews deflected the puck by Gustavsson, but the Wild erased the goal when they challenged for off-side, a ruling that ultimately helped extend the action and led to Colorado's 26th win at home.