Wild 5, Avalanche 3

This is why the Minnesota Wild gave out those 13-year, $98

million contracts to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last summer.

For the passing ability, the aggressiveness, the leadership and

the poise. For games like these.

Mikko Koivu had two goals, Suter had a season-high three assists

and Parise added two to lead the Wild past the Colorado Avalanche

5-3 on Thursday night.

”We did a lot of good things,” Parise said after Minnesota’s

season-high score.

Torrey Mitchell, Devin Setoguchi and Jonas Brodin had goals and

Matt Cullen had two assists for the Wild, who improved to 10-3-1 at

home and bounced back from a stinging loss two nights ago. Suter is

second among NHL defensemen with 20 assists in 26 games. Jared

Spurgeon led Wild blue-liners with 20 assists over a full 2011-12


P.A. Parenteau had two goals for the Avalanche, the second with

13:17 left in the game to prevent the Wild from coasting to the

finish. Gabe Landeskog also scored and Erik Johnson had two assists

for the Avs, but they were outshot 40-32. Koivu’s empty-netter with

33 seconds remaining sealed it.

His 3-on-2 goal that capped a three-score second period for the

Wild to stretch the lead to 4-2, just 66 seconds after Landeskog’s

goal cut the lead, was the highlight.

Parise and Suter, naturally, were in the middle of it.

”That was a very entertaining play to watch by three extremely

skilled players,” coach Mike Yeo said.

Parise brought the puck up the right wing and passed it to

Suter, who sent it right back to his buddy. Parise drew goalie

Semyon Varmalov out and zipped the puck through the slot to Koivu,

whose one-timer found the top and the back of the wide-open net

while Varmalov was still out of the crease on the other side.

”I think he knows I like to shoot,” Parise said, smiling.

Koivu set up the rush by winning a scrap for a loose puck along

the boards.

”I had my mind made up to try to get it over across to Mikko.

He made me a little nervous by going upstairs, but that was a big

goal,” Parise said.

Just the way fans might have envisioned on July 4 when Parise

and Suter signed.

”I didn’t expect they were going to pass it to me,” Koivu

quipped. ”But they did tonight.”

Minnesota got the opening goal for the sixth straight game when

Torrey Mitchell, whose apparent score in a 2-1 loss to Anaheim here

Tuesday was waved off after a video review, sent a shot through

goalie Varmalov’s armpit barely 3 minutes in. The Wild’s forecheck

was fierce again two nights later, and with Pierre-Marc Bouchard

moved up to the second line the trio with him, Cullen and Setoguchi

were especially buzzing all over the ice.

Cullen faked a shot so well in the second period that Avs

defenseman Greg Zanon fell as he reacted, giving Cullen a clear

path toward the net. Varmalov turned aside his shot, but Setoguchi

was there to knock in the rebound to give the Wild a 2-1 lead.

”You know what happened before that? We missed the net on a

shot that starts their breakout,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said.

”Those are the little things. It’s a mistake after another


Brodin, one of a handful of well-regarded prospects the Wild

have begun to work into their lineup, has played beyond his years

on the blue line with the veteran Suter. He sent a snap shot past

Varmalov from the left circle less than 2 minutes later.

”Kind of unacceptable right now, our record that we have on the

road,” Parenteau said. ”We have to find a way as a team to fix

that. We’re running out of time here.”

After handing Chicago its first regulation loss of the season

last week and following that with a win in overtime over San Jose,

the Avalanche have stumbled. They were beaten 4-0 by Edmonton on

Tuesday, and this wasn’t much better despite their third-period


Milan Hejduk returned to the lineup, at least, after missing

five games because of what he called a stiff neck. He replaced

David Jones on the first line with Landeskog and Paul Stastny.

Jones moved down to the third line with John Mitchell and Ryan


NOTES: After a violent blindside collision with Corey Perry that

brought the Anaheim RW a four-game suspension, Wild LW Jason Zucker

was held out with what the team has called an upper-body injury.

The rookie was feeling better, though, and expected to travel to

Colorado. Yeo said the way Bouchard played will make a tough

decision about who to leave out of the lineup. … The Avs killed

four power plays and have given up just one extra-skater goal in

the last four games, 14 out of 15 situations.