Wild Avalanche Hockey

Minnesota Wild right wing Ryan Hartman, right, is cleared from in front of the net by Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Denver.

It was pain, then gain for Erik Johnson in a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

Johnson stretched out his leg to block a shot on the penalty kill and was visibly stung by it.

“These pucks seem to find the places where you don’t have the pads,” Johnson said. “And I don’t know how, because I have extra ones everywhere.”

Soon afterward he took a pass from Nathan MacKinnon, who was rumbling around the boards and laid a big check on Jonas Brodin. Johnson scored from between the faceoff circles, his first goal since March 6, 2020.

“Everyone knows how hard EJ’s worked to get back to where he is,” MacKinnon said. “Last summer, we didn’t even know if he’d even play hockey again. So you could see the emotion on his face when he scored, which was really cool to see.”

That stood as the winner Saturday night at Ball Arena. The Avalanche won consecutive games for the first time this season and sit .500 heading into November.

MacKinnon had two assists and barely missed out on the empty netter, which eked in off the stick of Gabriel Landeskog. MacKinnon also briefly fought Brandon Duhaime after Duhaime drove Colorado defenseman Bowen Byram into the boards early in the third period.

“I thought it was a really dirty play. I think he should get suspended for that,” MacKinnon said. “Bo’s in a vulnerable position, he cross-checks him in the lower back.

"That could be a really ugly outcome. We’re lucky Bo’s OK.”

Byram went down the tunnel but reappeared quickly.

“We were sitting on the bench and I was asking our trainer, 'Where is Bo? Is he out?' ... Bo is sitting right next to me and he goes, 'I'm back!" Johnson said.

Nazem Kadri scored quickly during the ensuing major penalty to make the score 3-1.

Landeskog closed and opened the scoring. In the first period he was set up by Andre Burakovsky, who was playing on the top line in place of Mikko Rantanen before leaving the game with a lower-body injury.

“Hopefully we can rest up here,” Landeskog said. “We don’t have too crazy of a schedule the next couple of weeks, so good time for guys to get back and get healthy.”

Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves.

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