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15-game point streak stopped cold as Wild steamroll Avalanche

All good things must come to an end, and the Avalanche’s 15-game point streak came to a crashing halt in Minnesota on Wednesday, as an aggressive Wild team dominated in an 8-3 victory over Colorado. Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala had a hat trick, and the Avalanche gave up four power-play goals.

Quite frankly, the Avalanche came out flat and disinterested, and the Wild took full advantage with a three-goal first period that all but ended the game only 20 minutes in.

“We’re just going to learn from it and move on,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “D-zone turnovers were part of it, and neutral-zone turnovers were part of it, but I also think it’s bigger than that. Lots of areas where we can be better at.”

Head coach Jared Bednar didn’t mince words after the lopsided loss.

“If I had to summarize the game, I’d say this: They were the more hungry team,” Bednar observed. “They came out in the first period at a pace and intensity that we didn’t match, and we dug ourselves a hole — and that was partly discipline, partly turnovers. We didn’t manage the puck well, we weren’t skating well. They won every race and every touch in the first period, so they had the puck the bulk of the period.”

Overworked goaltender Philipp Grubauer had a dismal game, allowing seven goals on only 18 shots before being pulled from the game in the third period. Backup Jonas Johansson let the first shot he saw get past him only 38 seconds later for Fiala’s — and the Wild’s — final tally.

“Every single guy in that locker hates losing, and some of us hate losing more than we like winning. That’s just the way it is,” Landeskog said. “It doesn’t matter how many games you’ve won in a row or where you’re at in the standings. It’s still a loss, and good teams learn from that, and good teams are able to also move on from these types of games and these losses. That’s what we’re going to do.”

With the loss, the Avalanche fell just one game short — this one — of tying the franchise’s all-time record for consecutive games with a point.

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NEXT UP: Avalanche (26-9–4, 56 pts) at Ducks (12-21-7, 31 pts) | Friday, Apr. 9 at 8:00 p.m.

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TEAM NOTES

• The Avalanche’s special teams let them down Wednesday night. The Avs were only 2-for-7 on their power-play opportunities, and they allowed the Wild to go a whopping 4-for-5 on theirs. Two of Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala’s three goals were of the power-play variety.

• The Wild had only 19 shots on goal, but with eight goals on the night, that means that the Avs allowed Minnesota to score on an incomprehensible 42.1 percent of their shots.

• The Avalanche are done with the Wild — for the regular season, at least — winning the season series 5-2-1. That ties the most wins they’ve ever had over Minnesota in a single season.

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PLAYER NOTES

• Philipp Grubauer looked nothing like the Vezina Trophy candidate that he has been on Wednesday, allowing seven goals on only 18 shots — a disastrous .611 save percentage — before being pulled in the third period.

• Jonas Johansson relieved Philipp Grubauer with 7:18 left in the game. Only 38 seconds later, the Wild’s Kevin Fiala finished off his hat trick as Johannson let the first and only shot he faced into the net. Johansson has allowed goals on the first shot he’s seen in all three of his appearances with the Avalanche this season. Presumably, general manager Joe Sakic will be on the lookout for an upgrade at the position by Monday’s trade deadline.

• Nathan MacKinnon remains red-hot, scoring a goal and assist to extend his goal streak to four games and his point streak to seven games. During that seven-game span, MacKinnon has 12 points (five goals, seven assists). Not everything went well for MacKinnon on Wednesday, however; two of his penalties led to subsequent power-play goals for the Wild.

• Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist against Minnesota; the goal — his 22nd of the year — moved him into a tie for third place in the league with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl.

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THE FINAL WORD

“We come out, and they’re just a lot better than us in the first period. We were slow. They were winning all the puck battles and all the races.” — Gabriel Landeskog, on the Avs’ 8-3 loss in Minnesota.

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INJURY WATCH

• Matt Calvert (undisclosed) missed the Mar. 31 game and is day-to-day.
• Bowen Byram (concussion protocol) last played on Mar. 25 and is considered day-to-day.
• Conor Timmins (upper-body injury) missed the Mar. 8 game and has not played since.
• Dennis Gilbert (facial injury, COVID-19 protocol) was placed on injured reserve on Feb. 20. He is expected to be out until at least late March.
• Erik Johnson (upper-body injury) left the Jan. 30 game and has no projected return date. On March 25, coach Jared Bednar suggested that it was possible that Johnson could miss the remainder of the season.
• Pavel Francouz (lower-body injury) has yet to play this season and remains on injured reserve. On March 25, coach Jared Bednar suggested that it was possible that Francouz could miss the remainder of the season.

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LAST NIGHT’S LINES

FORWARDS:
Top Line: LW Gabriel Landeskog, C Nathan MacKinnon, RW Mikko Rantanen
Second Line: LW Brandon Saad, C Nazem Kadri, RW Andre Burakovsky
Third Line: LW Valeri Nichushkin, C Tyson Jost, RW Joonas Donskoi
Fourth Line: LW Liam O’Brien, C Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, RW J.T. Compher

DEFENSEMEN:
Top Pair: LD Devon Toews, RD Samuel Girard
Second Pair: LD Ryan Graves, RD Cale Makar
Third Pair: LD Kyle Burroughs, RD Jacob MacDonald

GOALTENDERS:
Starter: Philipp Grubauer

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Shawn Drotar is the host of “The Fan Late Night with Shawn Drotar;” weeknights from 10:00 p.m. to midnight — only on 104.3 The Fan. Follow him on Twitter at @sdrotar.

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