Colorado at Minnesota

Koivu lifts Wild with late third-period goal against Avs

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikko Koivu just keeps getting better and the Minnesota Wild just keep on winning.

With overtime looming just more three minutes away, Koivu made an athletic move to get to the net and score the game winner to help the Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Sunday night.

"It happened so fast," Koivu said. "It's always tough for the goalie when it comes so quick, and that's what happened there. I don't know if he even knew that I got the puck."

With both teams stagnant in the final period, Koivu grabbed the puck out of the corner, started like he was going to carry it behind the net and then made a lightning quick move to the short side and simply bulled his way out in front.

He stuffed the puck past a surprised Peter Budaj with 3:04 to play, lifting the Wild to their seventh win in the first eight games. Minnesota is off to its best start (7-0-1) in franchise history and is the only team in the NHL that has yet to lose a game in regulation.

"It's good for the team and it's good for our self confidence for the rest of the year," Koivu said. "But still, it's just eight games."

Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves, and Mark Parrish and Brian Rolston also scored for the Wild.

Koivu, the younger brother of Montreal star Saku, has made steady progress since he was chosen by the Wild with the sixth overall pick in the 2001 draft.

His first two seasons with the Wild were solid, but he seems to have taken another step this season.

"He's the guy that has been playing great for us since the start," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said.

Andrew Brunette and Tyler Arnason scored for the Avalanche, and Budaj made 29 saves.

The Colorado goaltender said he wasn't surprised when Koivu got to the crease, but "I was surprised it went in. He hit a five-hole."

Minnesota's struggling power-play unit, which entered the night converting a minuscule 6.9 percent of its chances, scored twice in the second, but Colorado bounced right back in an action-packed period.

After Parrish and Rolston scored power-play goals just over two minutes apart to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead, Colorado responded by finishing the frame strong.

Arnason got things going with a power-play goal and then Brunette scored on a tip in on the backdoor to tie the game.

But the Avalanche sorely missed Milan Hejduk, who was out with a back injury, and couldn't quite come up with enough in the end.

The Avs are looking to avoid another slow start, which doomed them last year. Colorado began last season 18-18-2, the kind of mediocrity that won't get it done in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Even a 15-2-2 finish to the season wasn't enough to dig the Avs out of that hole, and they missed the playoffs for the first time since 1993-94, becoming the first team in NHL history to record at least 93 points and not qualify for the postseason.

They added Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan to give the team some much-needed toughness, but the results have been mixed early this season. They are 4-4 in their first nine games.

"We've got to get it to overtime," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "We can't give up late goals like that or you end up with nothing. That's something we dealt with last year. We got better late in the year, but we can't wait to apply that lesson."

Notes

  • Wild forward Pavol Demitra had two assists, but did not play for the final 10 minutes of the third period because of an injury. Lemaire said he would be evaluated on Monday.
  • It was the 500th game in franchise history for the Wild, who began play in 2000. With a total record of 215-194-90 record (.521), the Wild have the seventh-best win percentage of any active franchise after its first 500 games.
  • It was a rough second period for Jordan Leopold, a former star defenseman at the University of Minnesota. Leopold took three penalties in the period, two of which led to Wild goals.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom stops a shot by Tyler Arnason, finishing with 29 saves.  (Getty Images)
Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom stops a shot by Tyler Arnason, finishing with 29 saves. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Colorado (4-4-0)0202
Minnesota  (7-0-1) «0213
Three Stars
N. Backstrom
MIN


Saves: 29
Save Pct.: .935
M. Parrish
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
M. Koivu
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
None
2ND PERIOD
05:20Power Play - Mark Parrish (2), Backhand Shot. Assist: Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra
07:22Power Play - Brian Rolston (3), Slap Shot. Assist: Kurtis Foster, Pavol Demitra
11:38Power Play - Tyler Arnason (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Marek Svatos, Joe Sakic
13:49Andrew Brunette (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kurt Sauer, Wojtek Wolski
3RD PERIOD
16:56Mikko Koivu (3), Wrist Shot, Unassisted.
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
05:58Burns, 2 min, Slashing
09:32Parrish, 2 min, Hooking
11:04Arnason, 2 min, Hooking
16:08Burns, 2 min, Interference
19:41Rolston, 2 min, Slashing
2ND PERIOD
04:30Leopold, 2 min, Holding
05:58Leopold, 2 min, Tripping
06:29Hlinka, 2 min, Hooking
10:03Koivu, 2 min, Hooking
18:08Leopold, 2 min, Holding
3RD PERIOD
08:26Koivu, 2 min, Hooking
SHOTS ON GOAL
 123T
Colorado139931
Minnesota7151032
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Peter Budaj59:00293
Niklas Backstrom60:00292
Game Information
Attendance - 18568
Referees - Chris Rooney, Don Van Massenhoven
Linesmen - Mike Cvik, Lyle Seitz
 
Other Games
Van 4 Final
Colu 1