DENVER (AP) — Eric Staal and the Minnesota Wild have their timing down. Too bad they can’t pass on the down time.
Staal had two goals, including the tiebreaker on a second-period power play, Devan Dubnyk made 20 saves and the Wild rolled into the All-Star break by beating the slumping Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Wednesday night.
“You certainly wish you could keep playing if they’re going to play like that,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It was really fun to watch.”
Tune in again on Feb. 1 for Wild hockey.
“We’re going to use it to our advantage and be able to recharge,” said Charlie Coyle, who had a goal and an assist. “Down the road, we’re going to have more juice in the tank.”
For the Avalanche, the break couldn’t come at a better time as they finished 3-7 in January and lost ground in the Central Division chase.
Tune in again on Feb. 2 for Avalanche hockey.
“Rewind and get your mind off of things if that’s what you want to do,” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “Study the game and make sure you come back hungry, because we’re going to need it.”
Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter also scored for the Wild, who earned their fourth win in five games to remain in the thick of the playoff picture. Staal and Suter had goals on separate 5-on-3 power plays.
Staal had another big performance, giving him three goals and two assists over his last two games.
“He’s reminding me of this time last year, when he started to go and find his legs,” Boudreau said. “We’re going to need it. Every team needs the big boys to play. When the big boys play well, we can play with anybody.”
Carl Soderberg and Tyson Barrie scored for the Avalanche. Philipp Grubauer stopped 23 shots as he got the start over Semyon Varlamov with Colorado searching for consistency in net.
“I don’t think he had a chance on any of those goals,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s not a goaltending loss.
“I’m still confident in our team, but nights like this when we don’t play in a mature team game, then it bothers me because I know we’re capable of it.”
Dubnyk flashed his All-Star form to improve to 18-12-1 all-time against Colorado. That’s his most wins versus one opponent.
Staal broke a second-period tie during a two-man advantage — and another missing a stick. On the play, Colorado forward Matt Calvert broke his stick and couldn’t cover Staal down low. Staal knocked in a pinpoint pass from Mikael Granlund through the middle.
“Classic Granlund,” Coyle said of the pass. “That’s a pretty goal.”
With 22.1 seconds remaining in the middle period, Coyle made it a 4-2 advantage. That was more than enough for Dubnyk, an All-Star for a third time. Still, Suter tallied another in the third with a pair of Colorado players in the penalty box.
The Avalanche took a one-goal lead on two occasions in the first period, only to be answered in short time. After Soderberg scored, Staal tied it up 1:08 later. And after Barrie gave Colorado a 2-1 advantage, Spurgeon soon knotted it back up with a liner over Grubauer’s glove.
Before the game, Colorado honored All-Stars Mikko Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog with a tribute. The linemates have combined for 199 points this season, including MacKinnon and Rantanen picking up assists on Barrie’s goal.
Minnesota and Colorado are now idle for the rest of the month due to the All-Star break and the bye week.
“Try and carry the momentum when we get back,” Staal said. “But we’re definitely going to enjoy the break.”
NOTES: Wild C Eric Fehr (lower body) could be back after the break. He’s missed nine games. … Wearing No. 77, D Brad Hunt was in the lineup after being acquired by the Wild in a deal with Vegas on Monday. Hunt played college hockey at Bemidji State in Minnesota and his wife is from the state. “We have a baby on the way. She’s excited for him to be born in Minnesota,” Hunt said. … Avs D Erik Johnson (head) missed a second straight game.
Wild: Off until Feb. 1 when they play in Dallas.
Avalanche: On hiatus until Feb. 2 when they host Vancouver. Barrie said for the break he’s going to “find a beach somewhere and relax.”
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