ST. PAUL, Minn. — Three forwards have been doing the bulk of the recent scoring for the Minnesota Wild.
Two of them scored in regulation Friday, but two other players scored in the shootout to give the Wild a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Charlie Coyle and Chris Stewart scored against Jonathan Bernier in the one-on-one competition and Alex Stalock stopped Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen as Minnesota improved to 6-1-1 in its past eight games.
“Honestly, I don’t know the last time I’ve won a shootout,” said Stalock, who had 28 saves.
Jason Zucker and Nino Niederreiter scored in regulation.
Zucker has nine of the team’s 26 goals over the past 10 games. Niederreiter has eight and Mikael Granlund five.
On a career-best eight-game point streak, Niederreiter has 12 points — nine goals — in 13 games since returning from a high left ankle sprain Oct. 31. Granlund had an assist and has 10 points in a six-game point streak.
“If they’re scoring we want to keep them scoring. We are happy that they’re hot. It’s going to be some other guys’ time throughout the year,” said Wild captain Mikko Koivu, who hasn’t scored in 13 games. “If they’re going to score 80 goals, I’m OK with that if we keep winning.”
Minnesota had all six shots in overtime, including two outstanding chances, but Bernier stopped Eric Staal alone in front and sprawled to stop Zucker with his right pad.
Because of past achievement, coach Bruce Boudreau went with Stewart in the shootout’s third round, even though the winger has been struggling. Stewart had six goals in the team’s first six games but hasn’t scored in 15 games since and was a healthy scratch two games ago.
“Quite frankly, he was staring me down. I was afraid that if I didn’t put him out, he’d get mad at me,” Boudreau said.
“I don’t think my numbers are by any means great in the shootout, but I definitely have some success. One on one with the goalie, I’m confident in my ability to put it in,” said Stewart, now 10-for-25 in his career.
J.T. Compher and Blake Comeau scored for Colorado, and Bernier stopped 25 shots.
“It’s a big road point for our team. I don’t like giving up two to them, but I like the way we played again tonight,” said coach Jared Bednar. Colorado is 3-1-1 in its last five games.
The Avalanche controlled much of the third period, including a 10-3 edge in shots, but was 0 for 2 on the power play in the frame and Stalock stopped Compher on a breakaway and a rebound.
Niederreiter tied it at 2 early in the second with a power-play goal in his team-record fifth straight game to extend his goal streak to a franchise-record tying six games. Brian Rolston also scored in six straight from Jan. 21-Feb. 5, 2008.
Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Staal was the last NHL player to score a power-play goal in five straight games, Jan. 21-28, 2010, when he was with Carolina.
With a bit of haze still in the air from pregame activity, Zucker’s wrist shot beat Bernier 1:13 in for his ninth goal in nine games.
Colorado, which entered the game with the league’s worst penalty kill on the road at 68.6 percent, tied it short-handed nine minutes later when Compher connected on a breakaway. Two of Compher’s three goals this season are with the Avalanche a man down.
Comeau scored late in the opening frame for a 2-1 Colorado lead.
“Obviously, we don’t want to give them an extra point but we competed really hard, we managed to come back in the game. So I thought overall it was a really solid performance,” Bernier said.
NOTES: This is the first of four meetings between Central Division rivals, the first season the teams haven’t met at least five times. … Minnesota is 12-3-1 in its last 16 games against Colorado. … Colorado G Semyon Varlamov (illness) practiced Thursday, but didn’t travel with the team. Andrew Hammond backed up Bernier.
Avalanche: Colorado opens a five-game homestand Saturday night against Calgary.
Wild: Minnesota starts a two-game trip in St. Louis on Saturday night.
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