Wild shut out Avalanche in season opener
ST. PAUL - At the start of a hockey season where expectations are sky-high in Minnesota, the Wild could hardly have scripted a better first act. Minnesota left winger Zach Parise scored a goal and set up two more as his team made an emphatic seas...
ST. PAUL – At the start of a hockey season where expectations are sky-high in Minnesota, the Wild could hardly have scripted a better first act.
Minnesota left winger Zach Parise scored a goal and set up two more as his team made an emphatic season debut, blasting past the Colorado Avalanche 5-0 on Thursday.
Right wingers Jason Pominville and Nino Neiderreiter, and defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter added goals for the Wild, who got a 16-save shutout from goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
“This was a combination of we were good tonight, there’s no question, and let’s not kid ourselves. Colorado was not at their best. I think we helped in that,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “We had a good start. It might have taken them off their game a little bit. So, to sit here and expect us to go and play 82 games like that, it’s not going to happen.”
It was a quiet start for Colorado, which won the Central Division title last season but was upset by the Wild in a seven-game playoff series in the opening round. Avalanche goalie Seymon Varlamov stopped 33 of the 38 shots he faced in the opening two periods, giving way to Reto Berra, who made 10 saves on 10 shots in the final 20 minutes.
“It was a night where we just weren’t nearly good enough,” Avalanche right winger Jarome Iginla said. “They played well and we didn’t. It’s the beginning of the year. We’ve got to get our battle level up and compete. That’s what we’ll take from it.”
Minnesota dominated the Avalanche from the start, forcing Varlamov to make six saves in the first 62 seconds while holding Colorado without a shot on goal during a pair of first period power plays.
15-2 with 5:06 left in the first, Minnesota finally broke through. Suter fed center Mikael Granlund with a long lead pass, and the Finn’s wrist shot was stopped by Varlamov. But the sizable rebound went to the front of the net. Pominville needed only a tap-in into the mostly-empty net for the Wild’s first goal of the season.
“It was fun. Those games are fun, getting chances a lot,” said Parise. “When our line is playing well that’s the way we want to play, support each other two-on-one when we get a chance. I thought tonight we did a good job of bringing it to the net. So it was a good start for us.”
Colorado 0 0 0- 0
Minnesota 1 4 0- 5
First Period-1, Minnesota, Pominville 1 (Granlund, Suter) 14:54.
Second Period-2, Minnesota, Spurgeon 1 (Parise, Pominville) 4:37. 3, Minnesota, Parise 1 (Granlund) 7:01. 4, Minnesota, Niederreiter 1 (unassisted) 13:21. 5, Minnesota, Suter 1 (Parise, Coyle) 16:58.
Shots on Goal-Colorado 5-8-3-16. Minnesota 17-21-10-48.
Power-play opportunities-Colorado 0 of 4. Minnesota 0 of 2.
Goalies-Colorado Varlamov 0-1-0 (38 shots-33 saves), Berra 0-0-0 (10-10). Minnesota Kuemper 1-0-0 (16-16).
A-19,098 (18,064). T-2:20.