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Minnesota Wild lack scoring punch in loss to Colorado

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The Minnesota Wild got off to a slow start and were unable to catch up to the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-1 loss Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The game had an eerily similar feel to Wednesday’s loss to the Phoenix Coyotes by the same score. The Wild fell behind early by two goals, cut the deficit in half and gave up an empty-netter while putting on pressure to get the game tied.

“They won more battles than us early,” Dany Heatley said. “They out shot us and out chanced us. I thought we battled back in the second half of the game.”

Heatley was the saving grace for the Wild. He re-directed a a great cross-ice pass from Nino Niederreiter past Giguere. Erik Haula won a battle behind the goal line to get the puck to Niederreiter for his first career NHL point. Heatley now has four goals in the last six games.

“Opportunity has a lot to do with it,” Heatley said. “It’s nice to get a regular shift, getting into a rhythm a little better and tonight I felt that as well.”

The Wild got their feet going over the last 30 minutes of the game, but were unable to generate a lot of scoring opportunities, despite dominating possession in the offensive zone. The Wild had most of the play along the boards with very little getting to net.

“First of all you have to win the battle along the boards,” Heatley said about turning offensive zone possession into scoring chances. “Teams play good (defensive zone coverage) like we do. The biggest thing is to hang onto the puck as long as you can, create, cycle and keep moving. Eventually something is going to happen, somebody is going to get out of position. You’ve got to take the puck to the net when you can. Use the puck possession, that is a huge key in the offensive zone.”

The Wild (15-8-4) and Avalanche (18-6-0) finish off their home-and-home series at the Pepsi Center Saturday.

Three Stars

No. 3 - Dany Heatley. The Wild forward scored a goal.

No. 2 - Nathan MacKinnon. The Avalanche forward recorded a goal and an assist.

No. 1 - Gabriel Landeskog. The Avalanche forward recorded one goal and two assists.

Boxscore

Colorado..…..1 1 1 - 3

Minnesota…..0 1 0 - 1

First Period - 1, Colorado, Hejda 3 (Landskog, MacKinnon), 3:45. Penalties - Parise, MIN (slashing), 12:23; McLeod, COL, major (boarding; served by Malone), 17:24; McLeod, COL, misconduct (game), 17:24.

Second Period - 2, Colorado, MacKinnon 4 (Landeskog, Johnson), 4:34. 3, Minnesota, Heatley 6 (Niederreiter, Haula), 15:02. Penalties - Stoner, MIN (cross checking), 10:42; Mitchell, COL (slashing), 12:46; MacKinnon, COL (roughing), 19:29; Niedereiter, MIN (roughing), 19:29.

Third Period - 4, Colorado, Landeskog 8 (Cliche), 19:40. Penalties - None.

Shots on goal - Colorado 8-8-5 21. Minnesota 6-6-16 28.

Goalies - Colorado, Giguere (27-28). Minnesota, Harding (18-20). Referees - Dennis LaRue, Dean Morton. Linesmen - Ryan Galloway, Don Henderson.

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