Parise, Dubnyk lift Wild to 4-0 win over Avalanche
Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise, center, celebrates scoring a goal with defenseman Ryan Suter, left, and center Charlie Coyle against the Colorado Avalanche in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Denver. The Wild won 4-0. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
DENVER (AP) Zach Parise scored twice, Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves for his 19th NHL shutout and the surging Minnesota Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on Saturday in a pivotal game between two teams contending for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Jordan Schroeder also scored and Mikael Granlund added a short-handed goal into an empty net to help the Wild move five points ahead of Colorado for eighth place in the playoff race.
Parise remains red hot as he followed up his hat trick on Thursday night with two more goals, including one in the second period of a scoreless contest that sent the Wild on their way to their fifth straight win.
This was a crushing blow to the playoff chances of the Avalanche. They have a tougher schedule with all seven of their remaining games against teams headed to the postseason. The Wild play three of their final six contests against teams with no postseason shot.
Down 3-0 with around 9:30 remaining and on the power play, Colorado pulled Semyon Varlamov. Granlund spoiled the ploy by scoring from just outside the blue line. The Wild finished the season 4-0-1 against Colorado.
Dubnyk was hard to solve early and only grew stronger as the game went along to post his first shutout since Dec. 3. He had several big saves early in the third to keep the momentum in Minnesota's favor.
The Avalanche couldn't generate many scoring chances with top scorers Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene each sidelined by a knee injury. They were outshot 35-29.
Parise all but ended any chance of a Colorado comeback with a power-play goal early in the third period.
The game changed midway through the second when Colorado committed a costly turnover. Mikhail Grigorenko tried to kick the puck to teammate Mikkel Boedker to start a break, but he couldn't get it out of the zone and Parise scooped it up. He sent a pass over to Granlund, who sent it right back to Parise for an easy goal.
Minnesota scored again with 21.3 seconds left in the second, when Schroeder's shot dribbled over the back of Varlamov and into the net.
Dubnyk stole the show in the opening period, stopping a slap shot by John Mitchell and a wrist shot from Boedker. Dubnyk also had some help from defenseman Mike Reilly, who reached out his stick to knock a shot from Mikko Rantanen off line with the side of the goal open.
Colorado labeled this a must-win game and held a team meeting Friday in which coach Patrick Roy implored the players to keep their focus narrow.
''It's not time right now to look at the big picture,'' Roy said. ''If you're looking at the big picture, it's going to be scary.''
NOTES: Minnesota is 8-3-1 on the road since interim coach John Torchetti took over in mid-February. … F Ryan Carter missed a fourth straight game with an upper body injury. … Minnesota improved to 8-1-1 against Colorado since Oct. 9, 2014. … Colorado starts a two-game trip Monday night in Nashville. The Avs play at St. Louis the next night.