After several humbling losses to the West Division leaders, the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday sent quite the message to the Colorado Avalanche in their last of eight regular-season matchups.
Eight was more than enough for the Wild to slow the Avalanche.
Kevin Fiala notched his first career hat-trick, while Kirill Kaprizov had two of Minnesota’s three power-play goals as the sharp-shooting Wild beat Colorado 8-3 to hand the Avalanche their first regulation loss in 16 games.
Photo: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY
“We can play against you guys,” Fiala said. “If we’re going to meet them in the playoffs.”
Luke Johnson, Ryan Hartman and Joel Eriksson Ek also scored as the Wild caught NHL wins leader Philipp Grubauer on a rare off night in the net.
He was pulled midway through the third period for Jonas Johansson, who gave up the eighth goal — to Fiala — that matched the all-time Wild record.
Photo: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY
They finished with just 19 shots on goal, scoring on a staggering 42 percent of their on-target attempts.
“They were the more hungry team. They came out in the first period again at a pace and intensity that we didn’t match,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.
Nathan MacKinnon got the Avalanche on the board 26 seconds into the second period after the Wild had built a 3-0 lead.
Andre Burakovsky and Mikko Rantanen each scored to cut the deficit to 4-3, but Kaprizov responded with a snipe through traffic less than four minutes later.
The Russian right wing became the first Wild rookie with two power-play goals in a game.
“He’s a great player. He’s been awesome for us the whole season, and I feel like all the lines are rolling,” Fiala said.
Two of Fiala’s goals were on a power play, too, as the Wild went four for five against an Avs penalty kill that entered the evening ranked second in the league.
The Avalanche self-inflicted much of the damage. MacKinnon had the penalties preceding both of Kaprizov’s power-play goals.
Hartman scored off an interception in the Colorado zone and Fiala also had a goal after a turnover.
“You don’t want to blow it out of proportion, but you’re not just going to let it go either,” Avs captain Gabe Landeskog said. “I think every single guy in that locker room hates losing. Some of us hate losing more than we like winning. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t matter how many games you win in a row or where you’re at in the standings, it’s still a loss, but good teams learn from that.”
In other games, it was:
‧ Senators 2, Oilers 4
‧ Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
‧ Blues 3, Golden Knights 1
‧ Kings 4, Coyotes 3
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