ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)Nathan MacKinnon scored his 32nd goal of the season, Pavel Francouz made 34 saves and the Colorado Avalanche ended their road trip with four wins in five games, beating the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Sunday night.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Gabriel Landeskog also scored for Colorado, which has won seven of the past eight games and is second in the league behind Washington with 18 road wins this season.
”Again, we find a way to get the job done,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. ”Tonight was a tough one with the back to back. Five different games, played good in all of them and were able to get four wins on the road which is big, especially this time of year.”
Jared Spurgeon and Kevin Fiala scored for Minnesota, which lost for the first time in four games. Devan Dubnyk made his second straight start for the Wild and stopped 30 shots.
”Last couple games have felt like playoff games; physical, good games,” Spurgeon said. ”But we’ve got to find ways to come away with them. We’re in desperate need of points. A good week, but it would have been better to finish with that one.”
Minnesota has tried to get back into playoff positioning with a friendly February schedule that includes a record nine games at home, where it’s 16-8-4 this season. Playing away from Colorado has been no problem for the Avalanche.
Behind its 18-9-2 record on the road, Colorado is second in the Western Conference with 70 points and is just behind Washington’s league-leading 20 road wins this season.
”Happy with the way we’re playing right now,” Landeskog said. ”And now we’ve got to convert this the way we’ve been playing on the road to home ice and make sure we get a jump here at Pepsi Center.”
Bellemare opened the scoring with his eighth goal of the season just 1:37 into the second period with the Avalanche short-handed. It’s the eighth short-handed goal of the season for Colorado.
Spurgeon answered just over three minutes later as the Wild had another power play. Zach Parise passed across the slot to Spurgeon, who was charging in for a one-timer past Francouz.
Fiala also scored on the power play for Minnesota. The Wild are 12 of 29 on the power play over the last 10 games and lead the NHL with 12 power-play goals since Jan. 14.
Fiala has been a big reason for the success. He has scored three power-play goals in the past four games and is second on the team with a career-high, five power-play goals. He has four goals and three assists in his last four games.
But Colorado scored three goals in the second. MacKinnon, fourth in the league in goals scored, wristed a shot through a screen by Landeskog on Dubnyk. Landeskog added his 14th goal of the season later in the period, quickly beating Dubnyk after the goaltender allowed a big rebound to slide out in front of the net.
Alex Stalock had won four of his five starts in goal for Minnesota, but Wild coach Bruce Boudreau went back to Dubnyk after he made 31 saves in a win against Dallas on Friday.
”He was better tonight on a whole, like I thought in the third period he made some good saves,” Boudreau said. ”There wasn’t five and six. There was two last game, three this game. Maybe it’s taking a little bit more time than I would like, but I think he’s getting a little more consistent.”
NOTES: Avalanche C Nazem Kadri left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury and didn’t return. … Cale Makar became the second rookie defenseman in franchise history to collect 30-plus assists in a single season. Bruce Bell had 31 assists for the Nordiques when the franchise was located in Quebec. Makar leads all rookies with 42 points. … Colorado is 26-1-4 when leading after two periods this season. Minnesota is 1-17-1 when trailing after two. … Minnesota had won five straight games against its Central Division opponents.
Avalanche: return home against Ottawa on Tuesday night.
Wild: host Vegas on Tuesday night.
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