Avalanche 4, Wild 3
Matt Hendricks scored short-handed to cap a three-goal second period for Colorado, and the Avalanche hung on to beat the Minnesota Wild on Monday 4-3 for the first time in five tries this season.
Matt Duchene, Chris Stewart and Milan Hejduk also had goals for the Avs, who took advantage of uncharacteristic sloppiness by Niklas Backstrom and the Wild and beat Minnesota in regulation for only the second time in the past 16 regular-season matchups between these Northwest Division opponents.
Owen Nolan and Martin Havlat scored less than two minutes apart midway through the third period, with Havlat's breakaway cutting the once-wide lead to one with 6:03 left and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Craig Anderson faced a flurry of shots, including a bad bounce off the board that almost caught him out of position, in the final minutes but finished strong with 28 saves.
The Wild outshot the Avs 13-4 in the third period.
They were playing well, their best stretch this season under new coach Todd Richards, until arriving in Ottawa on Friday. The van carrying their equipment caught fire, destroying half of the team's gear, much of it form-fitted, and then three players fell ill and couldn't play in the 4-1 loss to the Senators.
More than happy to be home, where they're 10-4-1 this season, the Wild brought energy to this chippy contest - with Clutterbuck and bruiser Derek Boogaard mixing it up with the Avs the most - but negated it with a haphazard performance.
The Wild struggled in the second period.
Stewart and Hejduk each scored on slap shots from the right wing, sending the puck past Backstrom's stick in both instances. Then came the bad goal to beat all bad goals, when Havlat tried to skate through two defenders and lost the puck at the Colorado blue line. The Avs cleared it all the way to the opposite end, but while the Wild changed lines nobody chased it down and Hendricks corralled it. He sent it to Cody McLeod, who gave it back to Hendricks for an easy score and a 4-1 advantage.
NOTES: Backstrom fell to 14-3-2 in his past 19 starts against the Avs. ... Hendricks scored for the first time in his home state. He's from an area suburb, Blaine, and played collegiately at St. Cloud State. ... The Wild announced the call-up of RW Jon DiSalvatore from Houston in the afternoon and sent him back to the AHL club less than three hours later when Nolan was activated from injured reserve. Nolan missed the past four games with an unspecified lower-body injury. ... After going 11 games with only one point, Duchene has eight goals and eight assists in his past 17 games since Nov. 18. Stewart has had a similar swing: After 10 games without a point, he has eight goals and nine assists in his past 14 games.