Minnesota weathered that first-period pressure and then went to work. That’s customarily the Wild’s plan, and they ran the Avalanche right out of their own arena Saturday _ and maybe even out of the post-season picture, too.
Parise scored twice, Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves for his 19th NHL shutout and surging Minnesota beat Colorado 4-0 in a pivotal game between two teams contending for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Jordan Schroeder also scored and Mikael Granlund added a short-handed goal into an empty net to help the Wild move five points ahead of Colorado for eighth place in the playoff race. They’re even within sight of Nashville and Chicago.
And while the Wild’s cushion for the last playoff spot may be big, they’re taking nothing for granted.
“Until we’re in, you’re never happy,” Minnesota interim coach John Torchetti said. “That’s a great win. We’re going to have a nice plane ride.
“Then, back to work.”
Parise remained red hot as he followed up his hat trick on Thursday night with two more goals, including Minnesota’s first score in the second period that sent the Wild on their way to their fifth straight win.
The whole key, though, was withstanding Colorado’s early surge. The Avalanche applied the pressure and the Wild never backed down.
“They come out flying here, look to take the body, intimidate you a little bit,” Dubnyk said. “They’re always talking. I don’t know if they think it’s scary. But we do a pretty good job of sticking to our game. We weathered the start in the first period, got right to our game and stuck with it for the rest.”
This was a crushing blow to the playoff chances of the Avalanche. They have a tougher schedule with all seven of their remaining games against teams headed to the post-season. The Wild play three of their final six contests against teams with no post-season shot.
“It’s possible,” Colorado forward Jarome Iginla said. “We need to put a winning streak together.”
Down 3-0 with around 9:30 remaining and on the power play, Colorado pulled Semyon Varlamov. Granlund spoiled the ploy by scoring from just outside the blue line. The Wild finished the season 4-0-1 against Colorado.
Dubnyk was hard to solve early and only grew stronger as the game went along to post his first shutout since Dec. 3. He had several big saves early in the third to keep the momentum in Minnesota’s favour.
The Avalanche couldn’t generate many scoring chances with top scorers Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene each sidelined by a knee injury. They were outshot 35-29.
Parise all but ended any chance of a Colorado comeback with a power-play goal early in the third period. He now has 13 goals and 17 assists in 26 career games versus Colorado.
“It’s just one of those teams, I guess,” Parise said. “I think our team has done a really good job against these guys. Going back a few years we’ve played some huge games against them. We’ve always played well here.”
Sure have. Minnesota improved to 8-1-1 against Colorado since Oct. 9, 2014.
The game changed midway through the second when Colorado committed a costly turnover. Mikhail Grigorenko tried to kick the puck to teammate Mikkel Boedker to start a break, but he couldn’t get it out of the zone and Parise scooped it up. He sent a pass over to Granlund, who sent it right back to Parise for an easy goal.
Minnesota scored again with 21.3 seconds left in the second, when Schroeder’s shot dribbled over the back of Varlamov and into the net. Just the way the day went for Colorado — the season, too, for that matter.
“I know the schedule doesn’t favour us. I hear it,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. “Let’s just play our games and play the way we’re capable of.”
NOTES: Minnesota is 8-3-1 on the road since Torchetti took over in mid-February. … Ryan Suter had an assist Saturday for his 400th career point. … Colorado starts a two-game trip Monday night in Nashville. The Avs play at St. Louis the next night.