The Minnesota Wild entered Thursday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche on the high note of a road win Tuesday night over the Anaheim Ducks, who have the best record in the NHL, and only a week removed from a win at home over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Colorado scored less than five minutes into the game, but Wild winger Zach Parise quickly answered with a power play goal to tie the score at one. Minnesota killed all four power plays the Avalance had in the opening period, but fortune would turn the other direction in the second period.
The Avalanche scored three times in the second period, spurred by a couple fortunate bounces of the puck and some lackluster defensive effort from the Wild, and the third goal of the period led to Niklas Backstrom replacing Darcy Kuemper in goal for Minnesota.
Parise scored his second goal of the game and assisted on Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville’s goals in the third period, as the Wild out-shot the Avalance 17-4, and he now has seven points in the last two games after failing to score a point in his first two games back from the foot injury that sidelined him for 14 games.
The Wild will end January with a 9-4-1 record that included some very good wins, but Thursday night’s game may re-ignite trade rumors surrounding their interest in goaltenders (Ryan Miller?) with three games to go before the Olympic break and the league’s trade deadline coming on Mar. 5. Backstrom simply can’t be relied upon consistently at his age (36 on Feb. 13), and it’s hard to expect Kuemper to play as well as he has through most of this month as the regular season starts to wind down and the Wild try to hang on to a playoff spot.