The Minnesota Wild had a chance to gain ground on the team ahead of them in the Central Division standings.
Ryan O’Reilly took a pass from Matt Duchene out of the corner and lifted a backhand shot over the shoulder of Niklas Backstrom with seven minutes and 16 seconds remaining in the game. O’Reilly started the play by stealing the puck from Ryan Suter at the Avalanche blue line.
“When he scored the winner, it was even nicer for us,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. ”It was a great play by (Duchene) in the corner. Great passing by both of them and (O’Reilly) made a super play to the net.”
Dany Heatley found Charlie Coyle for two goals in a 40 second span in the second period that erased a two-goal deficit late in the second period.
“I was at the end of it, but it was great plays by (my line mates),” Coyle said. “We had a good shift that everyone was going.
“(Heatley) has pretty good vision with the puck. I just tried to get open and find some room. He put (the puck) right on my stick.”
The Wild took the momentum at that point, but the Avalanche were happy to be tied after losing in overtime Friday at home.
“Before the game, if you would have told we would be tied. I would have taken it,” Roy said. “Anything was possible in the third. It was a matter of sticking to what we were doing. Keep playing hard.
“I don’t think either team wanted to lose that game. Both teams wanted to be patient. No one wanted to make a mistake that could be costly. I thought we took advantage of it.”
O’Reilly, who is now tied for the Avalanche lead in goals with the pair in Saturday’s game, gave the Avalanche a 2-0 lead at the 13:25 mark of the second period with a bad angle shot that found its way through Backstrom’s legs.
“(O’Reilly) played a strong game tonight,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. “Even in the second period when he scored that goal, I thought he was on top of his game. He’s an important player for us.
The Avalanche capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with one minute and 10 seconds remaining, just 10 seconds after Backstrom made his way to the bench for an extra attacker, on a shot from the center ice logo.
Kyle Brodziak had one last chance to cut the loss to one goal with a breakaway and rebound shot just before the final buzzer sounded.
The Wild (24-18-5) had trouble getting out of their own zone in the first period because of the forecheck that had three players high and a pinching defenseman along the boards. However, in the second and third periods, the Wild were able to break the forecheck and get out with more ease.
“We had to read off their defenseman,” Coyle said. “Communication helps. I wanted to talk to my wingers to see if they are coming down. Communication is huge when their defensemen are coming down or not.”
The Avalanche (28-12-5) clinched the season victory taking three out of four with one left to play in Denver later this month.
No. 3 - Matt Duchene. The Avalanche forward recorded an assist.
No. 2 - Charlie Coyle. The Wild forward scored two goals.
No. 1 - Ryan O’Reilly. The Avalanche forward scored two goals.
Colorado……..0 2 2 - 4
Minnesota……0 2 0 - 2
First Period - None. Penalties - Johnson, COL (roughing), 2:32.
Second Period - 1, Colorado, Landeskog 13 (Statsny, Talbot), 9:08. 2, Colorado, O’Reilly 15 (Mitchell, Benoit), 13:25 3, Minnesota, Coyle 5 (Heatley), 14:19. 4, Minnesota, Coyle 6 (Heatley, Prosser), 14:59. Penalties - Stollery, COL (hooking), 6:14; Veilleux, MIN (holding), 10:09; Cooke, MIN (hooking), 11:21.
Third Period - 5, Colorado, O’Reilly 16 (Duchene), 12:44. 6, Colorado, Talbot 5 (Benoit), 18:50 (en). Penalties - Cooke, MIN (hooking), 13:13.
Shots on goal - Colorado 3-9-6 18. Minnesota 7-7-13 27.
Goalies - Colorado, Varlamov (25-27). Minnesota, Backstrom (14-17). Referees - Eric Furlatt, Dean Morton. Linesmen - Lonnie Cameron, Tom Nowak.