The Colorado Avalanche’s 15-game point streak did not fade gracefully into the record books.
Kevin Fiala scored a hat trick Wednesday night as the Minnesota Wild poured it on in the third period on the way to an 8-3 win.
Philipp Grubauer, one of the NHL’s stars of March and the league leader in goals-against average among regulars, was yanked after surrendering the Wild’s seventh goal. The penalty kill also turned in a dud, allowing the Wild power play to score on 4 of 5 man advantages.
“It doesn’t matter how many games we won in a row or where you’re at in the standings. It's still a loss,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “But good teams learn from that and good teams are able to also move on from these types of games.”
Though it was their worst loss of the season, the Avalanche put together a convincing impression of a comeback after falling behind 3-0 in the first period. Minnesota’s star rookie Kirill Kaprizov scored exactly four minutes into the first period, followed by Luke Johnson and Fiala.
“They were the more hungry team,” coach Jared Bednar said. “They came out on the first period again at a pace and intensity that we didn’t match and we dug ourselves a hole.”
Nathan MacKinnon stickhandled around Jordan Greenway and wristed a shot on net. For the second straight night, his goal in the first minute of the second period sparked an Avalanche comeback, though this one didn’t go all the way.
Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman converted a Devon Toews turnover, then Andre Burakovsky put back a Jacob MacDonald rebound. Mikko Rantanen scored a power-play goal to get the Avalanche within one. MacKinnon banked a shot through a defender’s legs and off Cam Talbot’s pads right to Rantanen.
In the “con” column, MacKinnon took two minor penalties that led to goals. Kaprizov scored his second of the night to put Minnesota ahead by two heading into the second-period break.
“The lack of discipline and sort of frustration when we’re creeping back in the game just wasn’t there,” Bednar said. “We made two mistakes in the second period that I can think of that led to goals.”
Grubauer allowed two goals on four shots in the middle period.
Jonas Johansson relieved Grubauer in the third. Johansson then gave up a goal on the only shot he faced.
“I'm really proud of the way our team’s played and the way we’ve responded at different times during the year, the way we’ve been able to sustain a high level of play,” Bednar said. “Tonight — it was uncharacteristic of our group.
“It was disappointing, but at some point this had to come to an end.”