Mikko Koivu

J.T. Compher scores twice as Avalanche down Wild 5-1


The Colorado Avalanche kept their playoff train chugging along nicely on Tuesday.

Sitting in the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference heading into the game, the Avalanche received some help from the Montreal Canadiens via a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars, and kept up their end of the bargain with a 5-1 win away to the Minnesota Wild to leapfrog the Stars into the first wildcard spot — three points behind the Wild for third place in the Central Division.

The Avs are a healthy 5-0-3 in their past eight games.

While Nathan MacKinnon has been doing much of the heavy lifting to position himself favorably in the Hart Trophy conversation, it was J.T. Compher who took a bit of that load off on Tuesday.

Compher got the ball rolling for the Avalanche, scoring on a nice wrist shot that beat Dubnyk high in the first period.

Colorado’s lead would last well into the second period before Mikko Koivu converted on a odd-man rush to bring the Wild level.

Minnesota — who lost 7-1 the last time these two teams met — came into the game 3-1-0 in their past four, and with the Winnipeg Jets falling 3-1 to the Nashville Predators earlier in the night, the Wild had a chance to close the gap on second place in the division to five points.

But 59 seconds after Koivu notched his 13th, Nikita Zadorov crushed a one-timer from the slot past Dubnyk to restore the 2-1 lead.

Nathan MacKinnon entered the game on an eight-game heater and pushed that number to nine games 11 seconds into the third period to double Colorado’s advantage.

MacKinnon has eight goals and 17 points during his streak and 18 goals and 42 points in his past 25 games.

Compher’s second of the night came in the second half of the third period, a goal that was challenged for goaltender interference but upheld after the review.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

Associated Press
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[WATCH LIVE – 8:30 p.m. ET]



Jason ZuckerEric StaalMikael Granlund

Zach PariseMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Nino NiederreiterJoel Eriksson EkTyler Ennis

Daniel WinnikMatt CullenMarcus Foligno

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba

Nick SeelerNate Prosser

Starting goalie: Devan Dubnyk

[NHL on NBCSN: Avalanche, Wild meet with important points on the line]


Gabriel LandeskogNathan MacKinnonMikko Rantanen

Sven AndrighettoTyson JostJ.T. Compher

Matt NietoCarl SoderbergBlake Comeau

Alexander KerfootDominic ToninatoGabriel Bourque

Nikita ZadorovTyson Barrie

Patrik NemethSamuel Girard

Duncan SiemensDavid Warsofsky

Starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov

NHL on NBCSN: Avalanche, Wild meet with important points on the line

Getty Images

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Tuesday as the Minnesota Wild take on the Colorado Avalanche at 8:30 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.

After a week of playing against teams out of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Wild will see six of their next seven games against teams currently sitting in postseason spots. It begins tonight against the Avalanche, who romped to a 7-1 win when these teams met 11 days ago. Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon had himself a night with two goals and five points.

The Wild are on 85 points and reside in the third spot in the Central Division, but the Dallas Stars (82 points) and Avs (80) are right on their tail. Now is not a time for a March swoon.

“We know every point matters (over the course of the season),” said Mikko Koivu via the Pioneer Press. “That said, it’s a different feeling playing a game in March. … It’s a good feeling to come to the rink. It’s all business this time of the season.”

[WATCH LIVE – 8:30 p.m. ET]

With wins over Minnesota by scores of 7-2 and 7-1 this season, the Avs might feel a bit confident heading into tonight’s game with big playoff race implications. Semyon Varlamov will likely get the start in goal as he searches for his first win since that rout on March 2. His last three starts have not gone well as he’s allowed 11 goals in three overtime losses.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

With Jonathan Bernier sidelined after taking a puck to the head following his return on Saturday, the Avs need Varlamov to get his game right with a month to go in the regular season. Just as the Wild have teams nipping at their heels, Colorado is clinging to the final wild card spot with Anaheim, St. Louis and Calgary all within striking distance.

“(Varlamov) has been great,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said via the Denver Post. “He had some time off when he re-tweaked his groin there midseason (with) three weeks or so off. He’s been getting lots of rest on practice days, so he looks good and feels good. Not a problem there for him carrying the load right now.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild




St. Louis Blues

Alexander SteenIvan BarbashevVladimir Tarasenko

Jaden SchwartzBrayden SchennNikita Soshnikov

Patrik BerglundVladimir SobotkaTage Thompson

Scottie UpshallKyle BrodziakDmitrij Jaskin

Jay BouwmeesterAlex Pietrangelo

Vince DunnColton Parayko

Carl GunnarssonJordan Schmaltz

Starting goalie: Jake Allen

[Preview for Blues – Wild]

Minnesota Wild

Jason ZuckerEric StaalMikael Granlund

Zach PariseMikko KoivuNino Niederreiter

Charlie CoyleJoel Eriksson EkTyler Ennis

Daniel WinnikMatt CullenMarcus Foligno

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba

Nick SeelerNate Prosser

Starting goalie: Devan Dubnyk

Wild rout Blues for huge road win

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The Minnesota Wild have been one of the NHL’s worst road teams this season, entering play on Tuesday night with a 10-15-1 mark away from the Xcel Energy Center and coming off of an ugly loss in Dallas on a few nights ago.

They were able to reverse that on Tuesday night with a rather thorough 6-2 thrashing of the St. Louis Blues.

Early on it looked like it was going to be more of the same for the Wild on the road when they gave up a goal to Jaden Schwartz just 45 seconds into the opening period.

Unlike previous road games this season where they might have fallen apart and let the game get away from them, they did not waste much time in correcting it.

Just 1:17 later Nino Niederreiter scored to tie the game and then the Wild proceeded to score five consecutive goals to run away with this one and pick up two huge points in the standings. It was a collective team effort for the Wild as starting goalie Devan Dubnyk stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced (including more than 20 in the third period) and received goals from six different players, including Marcus Foligno, Matt Dumba, Zach Parise and Jason Zucker.

Mikko Koivu also scored in the win as he was able to find the back of the net for just the third time in the past 44 games.

It is a huge win for the Wild as it helps catapult them back into one of the playoff spots in the Western Conference for the time being.

They are now back into the second wild card spot with 63 points.

A couple of weeks ago we looked at the Wild’s Jekyll and Hyde act on the road and determined that, more than anything, they just need to play better everywhere if they are going to have a chance to make the playoffs. Tuesday’s win was a nice step in the right direction. Do not let the shot chart in this one fool you too much either, a lot of the Blues’ damage in that regard was done in the third period when the game was already well out of reach.

Minnesota now returns home — where they have one of the NHL’s best records — for five consecutive games starting on Thursday night.


Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.