Devin Setoguchi's late goal lifts Wild to victory over Avalanche
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - After a scoreless and uneventful first two periods, Devin Setoguchi scored his sixth goal of the season with 2 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the third period Thursday night to give the Minnesota Wild a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center.
The winning goal came when Dany Heatley wound up for a shot in the high slot. The rebound came straight out to Setoguchi, who fired it home without hesitation to beat Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere to the glove side.
Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom made 27 saves and improved his overall record against the Avalanche to 18-4-2. The Wild increased its lead in the Northwest Division to five points over the Edmonton Oilers and are two points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the best record in the Western Conference.
The Wild was using four rookie defensemen, including Kris Fredheim, who made his NHL debut Thursday. The victory marked game No. 700 for Wild defenseman Nick Schultz.
"Tonight we had to defend really well and we did," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "With a bunch of young defensemen in there and Schultzy playing his 700th game, I think that was a pretty impressive effort from those guys. But also (from) our forwards, defending and giving ourselves a chance to get things going when a game is less than perfect, and finding a way to win."
The first period saw few, but equal scoring opportunities for both teams. The Wild gained momentum late, but ended the period with no clear edge over the Avalanche as Clayton Stoner was sent to the box for tripping at 19:34.
The Avalanche did not capitalize on the power play, but they gained momentum from the man-advantage.
The Avalanche was outshooting the Wild 19-13 at the end of the second period.
"It was not going to be a perfect game on our part," Yeo said. "We haven't had quality practice time lately, the amount of travel that we've had, that first game home is always difficult, so you could see execution wise we were having a tough time out there, especially in that second period."
The game marks the first for the Wild following a five-game trip that included four games in the west. The Wild went 3-2, finishing with a victory at Columbus.
Thursday's third period began in the same fashion as the first, and the Wild was forced to play tough defense.
"We have a team full of fighters," Yeo said, "and I thought we defended very well. One of the most impressive things for me in the game was Colorado was playing well and we had to keep going back. It would have been real easy for us to get frustrated, to get away from our game, but we hung in there long enough. We played our game long enough and we found a way to raise our game and come away with a win."
In the third period, after a hit-filled shift by the Wild's third line, the team gained some energy. Wild defenseman Justin Falk got into a fight with David Jones and was given an extra two-minute penalty for roughing.
This didn't sit well with Yeo, who felt that Jones had started the fight by throwing an elbow at Falk. The Wild, however, killed off the penalty, giving them team added confidence.
"A lot of times in a game like that, you get those kills," Yeo said, "and there's definitely a feeling on their side, I would think, that they're missing opportunities, and a feeling on our side, that it's going to come."
And it did.
"As soon as I saw it ricochet," Setoguchi said, "it was right on my stick. Anyone would want one of those. It bounced right to me."
Setoguchi's score with 2:31 remaining in the game discounted the lack of activity in the first two periods and the lopsided shots on goal.
• 7: Rookies that have played for the Wild this season in only 19 games. Only the Flyers have used more rookies (eight), but the Wild have played the most rookie defensemen in the league (four).
• 59: Jersey number worn by newcomer Kris Fredheim. No Wild player has ever worn the number before.
• 38.7%: Avalanche power play average on the road entering Thursday's game. The Avalance finished 0-for-3 on the power play.
• Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday meaning he will not skate in a game for at least seven days.
First period: No scoring.
Second period: No scoring.
Shots: Colorado 6-13-8-27; Wild 8-5-5-18. Saves: Colorado, Jean-Sebastien Giguere (18-17); Wild, Niklas Backstrom (27-27). Power plays: Colorado 0-for-3, Wild 0-for-1.
The Wild will play the second game of a six-game homestand at 7 p.m. Saturday against the St. Louis Blues. The Wild have played the Blues only once this season, beating them 2-1 on Nov. 5 at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Blues have a three-game winning streak after a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night. The Blues had previously defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings.