EDMONTON, Alberta – After a break Thursday, the Wild will have a few days left to prepare for its qualifying-round matchup with Vancouver, and its lone exhibition primer Wednesday offered up some practice material.
Despite a fast start by the power play, the unit came up empty-handed the rest of the game — finishing 1-for-8 in a 3-2 loss to the Avalanche at Rogers Place.
“More pucks have to go at the net,” coach Dean Evason said afterward on a video call. “We thought our entries were real good. We thought our puck control was real good. But we have to find opportunities to get pucks at the net.”
The power play tied the score 1-1 only 3 minutes, 5 seconds into the first period on a Matt Dumba one-timer, this after Colorado’s Joonas Donskoi opened the scoring at 1:25 when he buried a rebound by Alex Stalock.
A shot off the rush by Nathan MacKinnon reinstated the Avalanche’s lead by 4:47, but the period ended 2-2 after Eric Staal capitalized on a loose puck at the side of the net at 14:06.
Gabe Landeskog put Colorado ahead again at 4:31 of the second with his team’s only power-play goal in five tries, and that was the difference-maker even though the Wild had four more chances with the man advantage — including a four-minute look after Marcus Foligno was caught with a high stick.
“When you’ve got a guy on the one unit like Zach Parise, the puck needs to get there,” Evason said. “The puck needs to get there so he has an opportunity to score goals, and we didn’t do enough of that for whatever reason. We’ll obviously have a good opportunity to watch it and go forward with that, but definitely more pucks at the net will help us out.”
Stalock was in net for all three Avalanche goals, leaving near the midway point of the second after making 14 saves. Devan Dubnyk turned aside all 12 shots he faced in relief. Both remain under evaluation to determine the team’s Game 1 starter for Sunday.
“We saw some real good things from both of them,” Evason said. “Both of them had areas of the game that they had barrages, and they played and held up extremely well. We liked both their games.”
Although the Wild’s goal horn went off on the TV broadcast after the team scored Wednesday, the reaction inside Rogers Place was much tamer.
“There’s not a horn,” Stalock said. “There’s not a crowd. Just dead quiet and maybe a few stick taps and a cheer. It’ll take some getting used to.”
The Wild got its first introduction to game action without fans during its exhibition contest, and while players were impressed with the setup in Rogers Place — including the screens around the ice — the lack of sound was different.
“It was a little weird, I think, [with] no fans,” Kevin Fiala said. “But it was an emotional game. A lot of hits, a lot going on there. I think as the game went on, I didn’t feel such a difference. Maybe on the PP, when you go on the PP, there are no fans to cheer or when you have a big chance. You gotta play the game.”
During the national anthem, Dumba and teammate Jordan Greenway stood with Colorado’s Nazem Kadri and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — a decision Dumba said showed “our strength in numbers in this fight against racism.”
Earlier this summer, Dumba helped launch the Hockey Diversity Alliance, which also includes Kadri.
“Me and Naz have done a lot of work, and we’ve shared that with both of our teams everything that we’ve been doing with HDA,” Dumba said. “To know that we got allies like our teammates and like our organizations behind us was very powerful and to have us four standing up there as four players of color in the game, I hope that showed some strength.”