The Colorado Avalanche went on a scoring rampage on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. The final score of 7-4 is both a season high for the Avalanche and the most goals the team has scored against the Wild in a single game.
The scoring started off quickly, with the first goal coming in at 1:01 in the first period, slung in by Avalanche forward Paul Stastny. The Wild would go on to score two unanswered goals, including a power play goal during the last 30 seconds of the period when Matt Cullen shot a bomb from the blue line.
The Avs scored four goals during the second period, three of which came in a span of just over two minutes. The Wild was only able to put up one goal late in the period.
After saving 31 of 38 shots, Minnesota swapped out goaltender Niklas Backstrom for former Avalanche José Théodore early in the third period. Théodore was able to turn away the few shots he faced.
After the Wild became more desperate, the game turned more physical. Chris Stewart clobbered Kyle Brodziak when the two duked it out late in the second period. Consequently, Stewart broke his left hand and did not finish the game. Stewart is Colorado’s top goal scorer this season with 11 goals in 23 games.
Head Coach Joe Sacco could not shed any light on the extent of Stewart’s injury.
“He’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow morning and we’ll know more,” Sacco said. “Hockey’s a game of emotions, and things happen during the course of a game. You wish, obviously, that wouldn’t happen, but that’s the way the game goes. It’s a physical game out there.”
With the loss of key starting players such as goaltender Craig Anderson, defenseman Adam Foote, and forward Peter Mueller, one would think that the team’s performance would suffer. Fortunately, the Avalanche has found success with the young players who have been called up from Lake Erie. As unfortunate as it would be if Stewart were to be put on the injured reserve for any length of time, it is likely the Avs will not miss a step.
“You never want to lose any player, and Chris is a big part of our team. He’s been playing very well for us,” Sacco said. “But like we’ve done in the past and we’ve dealt with this year, we’ll deal with injuries as they come. Change brings opportunity and somebody else will have to step up in his place. We’ve been very resilient when we’ve had injuries and this organization has a lot of depth.”
The Avs also lost forward Daniel Winnik to a leg injury early in the first period after being hit by a shot.
One player who exemplifies the depth of the organization is Greg Mauldin, who scored his second and third NHL goals, later adding two assists to the books.
“I was given an opportunity tonight when a couple guys went down,” Mauldin said. I was able to fill in there and I was happy to do it. I just want to keep on going from here.”
The Avalanche will finish out the month of November at home against the Atlanta Thrashers.