The Minnesota Wild shut out the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 in Denver on Saturday afternoon, moving five points ahead of the Avs for the final wild-card spot with six games left to play.
Colorado has one game in hand, but has to play all seven games against teams occupying a playoff spot. Minnesota has only two against playoff teams going forward.
“It’s far from over, we know that,” Zach Parise, who scored a goal in the first and third periods, told the Star Tribune. “But we’ve put ourselves in a good spot where you want to keep pushing them down.”
The Avalanche came out playing physically, but the Wild weathered the storm and was able to hang two goals on them in the first period — the second one coming from Jordan Schroeder with less than a minute left in the first.
Parise’s power play goal five minutes into the third gave Minnesota a comfortable lead, and an empty-net goal by Mikael Granlund halfway through the fourth period put the Avs away for good.
“They’re always talking,” Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, who made 29 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and 19th of his career, said of the Avalanche.
“I don’t know if they think it’s scary, but we do a pretty good job of sticking to our game, and we weathered the start in the first period and got right to our game and stuck with it for the rest.”
Minnesota is playing its best hockey right now. Dubnyk is 10-1-1 in his last 13 starts. The power play has climbed to 10th in the NHL. And the penalty kill is 24-for-25 in the past 10 games.
“I wasn’t worried about it. Everyone else was worried, but I wasn’t,” interim coach John Torchetti said after the game. “I trust this team, and we’ve got to trust each other.”[Star Tribune, Pioneer Press]