Avalanche face Wild chasing first winning streak of season

National Sports

The Colorado Avalanche will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night in Denver.

The reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners got off to a slow start to the 2021-22 campaign and had lost four of their previous five games before handing the host St. Louis Blues their first defeat of the season, 4-3 on Thursday night.

J.T. Compher scored twice and Nazem Kadri and Cale Makar also scored goals for the Avalanche, who built a 3-1 lead after two periods and outshot the Blues 42-18.

“It’s an excellent, great road game,” Kadri said. “We came out with a great start. I don’t think we let off the gas throughout the whole game. They pushed back a couple of times with some timely goals, but we responded well. That’s good to see from a mature group.”

Makar scored two points in the contest to give him 100 in 108 games in his career, tying Sergei Zubov (108 in 1993-94 with the Rangers) for the sixth-fewest games by a defenseman in NHL history to hit the 100-point mark. No. 100 came on a goal at the 4:51 mark of the third period to make it 4-2 and proved to be the game-winner.

“We have a resilient group here, and we know when we play to our strengths and are forechecking hard, we know we can create opportunities for ourselves,” Makar said. “I think for us tonight it was just staying on top of that and continuing to battle hard.

“Overall, it’s focus on the next one now and we need to start stringing some wins together. Obviously it’s early in the season and as a team we understand that.”

Next up is a home game against Minnesota, which entered Friday’s action tied with St. Louis for first place in the Central Division with 10 points.

The Wild will be completing a three-game road trip that began with a 3-2 victory at Vancouver but featured a 4-1 loss to the expansion Seattle Kraken on Thursday night, their first loss in four road games this season.

“We didn’t play like the Minnesota Wild,” center Ryan Hartman said. “We played kind of like individuals a bit, not necessarily intentionally, just not around each other.”

Minnesota played without right wing Mats Zuccarello and center Rem Pitlick, who had positive COVID-19 tests earlier Thursday, while defensemen Alex Goligoski (upper-body) and Dmitry Kulikov (lower-body) were late scratches with injuries.

Still, it was a 2-1 game until the Kraken scored a pair of empty-net goals by Brandon Tanev and Mark Giordano in the final 60 seconds. Cam Talbot made 34 saves and picked up his first loss of the season after winning his first five starts, the best start of his NHL career.

“We didn’t do a lot of right things in this hockey game, and the outcome was deserving of that,” said Minnesota coach Dean Evason.

“We didn’t have much,” added defenseman Jonas Brodin. “We didn’t create a lot of offense. Credit to them. They did a good job. But that was not our best game today. And I think (Talbot) was awesome. He gave us a chance to win today.”

–Field Level Media

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