for this game

Wild edge struggling Avalanche

Feb 10, 2011 - 8:43 AM
St. Paul, MN (Sports Network) - Niklas Backstrom made 23 saves and three goal-scorers paced the Minnesota offense, as the Wild edged the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2, at Xcel Energy Center.

Antti Miettinen, John Madden and Martin Havlat scored for the Wild, who have won seven of their last nine games. Minnesota will begin a home-and-home set on consecutive nights Friday at St. Louis.

David Jones scored both goals for the struggling Avalanche, who have dropped five straight and seven of their last eight games overall. Craig Anderson started between the pipes for Colorado, but was pulled after yielding three goals on 17 shots. Peter Budaj made seven saves in relief.

"All the games are important from here on out," said Colorado head coach Joe Sacco. "The entire Western Conference is very tight and we can't slip any further."

A surprising sequence during the latter stages of the first period saw a combined three goals scored within a 51-second span.

Miettinen's 10th goal -- a power-play tally assisted by Matt Cullen and Brent Burns -- started the flurry at the 15-minute mark before Jones' first goal of the game 11 seconds later on the ensuing shift tied the score.

Less than a minute later, Havlat gave the Wild a 2-1 lead with his 15th goal. He held control behind the net and attempted a stuffer at the left post, which was negated. However, Havlat stayed with the play, regained control of the puck and lit the lamp with a turnaround wrister from in close at 15:51.

Midway through the middle frame, Madden's eighth marker of the campaign pushed Minnesota's advantage to two when he beat Anderson with a wrister from the right side of the slot.

"I think it's a combination of things," said Jones about Colorado's recent struggles. "There are a lot of areas where we need to tighten up."

Only 23 seconds into the final stanza, Jones struck again with his 18th goal of 2010-11. From behind the net, Jones kept poking at the loose puck, which Backstrom could not control in the crease. On his third whack, Jones finally connected and the puck deflected off several skates and sticks, bounced into the air, flew over Backstrom's shoulder and into the back of the cage.

Throughout most of the remainder of regulation, the Wild were the team that seemed to be playing as if they were down by a goal. The hosts controlled most of the offensive action and kept Colorado's scoring chances to a minimum.

"Our defense has been solid the last two months and we feel very comfortable with all of our guys back there," said Minnesota's Andrew Brunette. "They do a great job and we also have great goaltending."

Game Notes

Cullen had two assists and has 23 helpers this season...The Wild have now captured nine of the last 12 meetings with the Avs and improved their 2010-11 record on home ice to 13-11-2...Minnesota was 1-for-4 on the power play and held Colorado scoreless on all four of its chances with the extra skater.