Wild scores 3 times in third period, rally past Avs 6-4Minnesota Wild center Luke Kunin, left, slips past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard in the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
It turned out to be the right move.
Devan Dubnyk made 14 of his 40 saves in the third period for the Wild, who have taken two of the three games against Colorado.
It took a third-period comeback for a team that struggled in those situations early in the season. But the Wild have gone 13-4-4 since Nov. 12 and moved up in the Central Division standings.
''When you believe you can come back, and you have to have that belief before you can do it, I don't think we had it at the beginning of the year,'' coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''But I do think the guys never think they're out of it at this stage.''
Matt Calvert had two goals, and Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog also scored for Colorado. Pavel Francouz had 27 saves for the Avalanche, who have lost their last three home games despite holding a third-period lead in each.
''We have a one-goal lead with 10 minutes to go in the game and again it's a couple defensive breakdowns on both of those goals that give them the lead,'' Landeskog said.
Calvert's second goal of the game 1:33 into the third period gave Colorado a 4-3 lead before Zuccarello tied it with his 10th of the season at 10:41.
Rask then stole a puck at center ice, skated into the Avalanche zone with Fiala to his right, his stick up and ready for a pass. Rask instead sent a wrister to the far side of the net to give Minnesota the lead at 11:58.
''I was looking at Kevin there for a little bit, he was screaming for the puck, but I decided to shoot,'' Rask said.
Colorado pulled Francouz with less than two minutes left and Suter scored into an empty net at 19:48.
''Points are so valuable and we've let some slip away lately,'' Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. ''We have to make sure we're digging in to get them back. We've got to get our game in order quick.''
The game was tied 3-all heading into the third after a couple of calls went Colorado's way.
Midway through the second period, Minnesota had a goal by Joel Eriksson Ek taken away when Bednar successfully challenged that Marcus Foligno was offside.
After Hunt scored a power-play goal that gave the Wild a 3-2 lead, Colorado tied it on MacKinnon's goal with 48 seconds left in the period, a goal that Dubnyk argued futilely was kicked in by the center.
''I don't know how you can call that a skating motion,'' Dubnyk said. ''I mean, there's a follow through. Doesn't matter now.''
The Wild took a 2-0 lead on goals by Soucy and Staal in the first 9:22 of the first, but the Avalanche rallied and tied it when Calvert and Landeskog scored 46 seconds apart.
NOTES: Colorado has been successful on all three offside challenges this season and has won four out of five overall challenges. ... Minnesota C Mikko Koivu (lower-body injury) missed his 11th straight game. ... Avalanche D Cale Makar had an assist in his return to the lineup. He missed eight games with an upper-body injury. ... Denver Broncos All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, a frequent courtside fan at Denver Nuggets games, was sitting along the glass.
Wild: Host the New York Islanders on Sunday night.
Avalanche: At Dallas on Saturday night.
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