After dominating during a recent five-game homestand, the Wild had to be feeling good about themselves heading into a series with the rival Colorado Avalanche.
Not only were they lighting up the scoreboard seemingly every night, the Wild were getting solid play from both goaltenders on the other end.
Nonetheless, coach Dean Evason cautioned his players not to rest on their laurels heading into Thursday’s game at Ball Arena. He knew the Avalanche were a different beast when firing on all cylinders.
“We have to do a good job of getting the heck out of our defensive zone,” Evason said before the game. “They lead the league in possession in the offensive zone, so when we can dislodge pucks and get going the other way, that’s what we have to do.”
Let’s just say that was easier said than done.
From the drop of the puck, the Wild looked overmatched on their way to a 5-1 blowout loss. That snapped a five-game winning streak for the Wild and did so in overwhelming fashion.
To say the Wild struggled on this particular night would be putting it lightly. They were on their heels for the full 60 minutes, allowing the Avalanche to fire a ridiculous 55 shots on goal and doing very little to help goaltender Cam Talbot.
The clinic started in the first period as the Avalanche raced out to an incredible 20-1 advantage in shots on goal before the Wild finally woke up. The game likely would’ve been over at that point had it not been for Talbot making a number of big saves.
That said, it felt like only a matter of time before the Avalanche broke through, and superstar center Nathan MacKinnon eventually made it 1-0 with a highlight-reel goal. He shook Ryan Hartman with an ankle-breaking move at the blue line, then got a fortunate bounce in front as the puck snuck past the goal line.
Though the Wild managed to stay within striking distance despite their sub-par play, Mikko Rantanen netted a tap-in goal in the final minute of the first period to stretch the Avalanche lead to 2-0.
That was a gut punch for the Wild, and while Victor Rask cut the deficit to 2-1 with a snipe early in the second period, the Avalanche continued the onslaught with a goal from Gabriel Landeskog to make it 3-1.
That paved the way for the third period where the Wild showed little signs of life. Meanwhile, the Avalanche poured it on with a breakaway goal from Joonas Donskoi to stretch the lead to 4-1 before Rantanen finalized the score at 5-1 with an incredible individual effort in the neutral zone.