In a rematch of the opening game of the season, the Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in a shootout. The Avalanche move to 5-6-1 with 11 points for the season thus far.
The first period was filled with little action and as both the Avs and Wild never had any real threatening chances. Giguere and Backstrom were extremely comfortable and never really looked like letting in a goal. The 2nd period was a different story, with just two and half minutes gone in the period Aaron Palushaj scored his first goal in an Avs uniform in just his second game for the team. This was a well-designed goal as Stastny bounced the puck off the boards and right into the direction of the speedster David Jones who back handed a pass to Palushaj for the one timer leaving Backstrom no chance.
The lead would only last eight minutes as Zach Parise scored on a wraparound that beat Giguere who made the initial save but could not get his right pad across goal in time to deny Parise. Then came a very cool achievement in multiple ways, the Avalanche scored a power play goal! Who else but Milan Hedjuk, the birthday boy. This was a vintage Hedjuk snap shot goal which came off a rebound from a Jaime McGinn shot. This goal was even more special because it was Hedjuk’s 800th career point of his illustrious career and he joined the exclusive group that includes: Joe Sakic, Paul Stastny, and Michel Goulet as only players with that many points in the franchise’s history.
It’s pretty fitting that in Hedjuks 14th season and very well maybe his last season, he scored on his birthday a feat he completed one other time back in his rookie season. No more scoring took place in the 2nd period, and the Avs would take a 2-1 lead into intermission.
The 3rd period was ugly from the start as the Wild tied it up at 2 only two and half minutes into the period when Mike Rupp somehow poked the puck into the net. Giguere was furious and felt he had the puck covered but the goal stood. It got worse when Mikko Koivu scored on a backhand to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead at the halfway point of the 3rd. Oddly enough, the Avs upped their game and started pressing furiously and were rewarded just fifty-two seconds later when Matt Duchene showed great determination and good fortune when he took a shot from behind the net and the puck deflected off a Wild player straight into the back of the net. This was Duchene’s 4th goal and man was it an important one. PA Parenteau and Shane O’Brien were credited with assists.
Both teams would have chances towards the end of the 3rd period with the Avs getting a power play with a little over a minute left in the 3rd but they could not score.
Headed into OT for the 2nd straight game, the Avs had fifty seconds on the power play left but could not convert. Both goalies were solid in OT and a shootout would decide the game. In the shootout, Giguere was excellent as usual shutting down Mikko Koivu and Zack Parise. Milan Hedjuk scored a filthy backhand goal and Matt Duchene sniped a shot into the corner on his shootout goal to give the Avs the win and the precious two points.
A gritty and well deserved two point victory for the Avalanche that was much needed. Giguere was solid in net all night saving 26 of 29 shots and the Avs were able to get 32 shots on goal and more importantly got the win.
Next up for the Avs is a tough road match up vs. the young guns in Edmonton.