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Wild contain league’s best line in 3-2 win over rival Avalanche

Minnesota Wild forward Mikko Koivu (9), forward Zach Parise (11) and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson (6) battle for the puck in the second period at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, Oct. 27. Brad Rempel / USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL — In the hours leading up to Saturday’s game pretty much the only topic of conversation inside the Wild locker room was how to limit the Avalanche, namely the top line of Nathan MacKinnon centering Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

“That’s arguably the best line in the league right now,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We know it’s going to be a tough haul today, because they’re feeling pretty good about themselves.”

Just saying they’re the best line in the league right now would be putting it lightly. In fact, entering the matchup, the trio had combined for 23 goals and 30 assists this season.

You can’t really stop them. You can only hope to contain them.

“These guys are as good as there is, and they’re as exciting as there is,” Boudreau said. “If we look at why we haven’t had success against this team, it’s because we haven’t been able to contain them. If we contain them, I feel like we’ll have some success.”

That proved to be the case as the Wild managed to keep the dynamic trio off the scoresheet for most of the night en route to a 3-2 win to stretch their winning streak to five games.

Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal, and Jonas Brodin scored the goals, and Devan Dubnyk finished with 31 saves, including a handful of impressive stops down the stretch.

While the Wild emerged victorious on this particular night, it looked grim in the early stages of the game, especially considering the Avalanche took the lead in the first period with a goal from defenseman Mark Barberio.

It was a parade to the penalty box after that, though neither team could capitalize throughout, as the Wild went 0 for 5 and the Avalanche went 0 for 6 with the man advantage.

After an initial burst from the Avalanche, things started to even out. Then Granlund tied the game in the second period with a casual flick of the wrist that beat goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

That was enough to get the Wild going, and they parlayed that into a solid third period before Staal and Brodin scored a goal apiece to put the Avalanche away for good.

While the Avalanche’s top line finally managed to get on the board thanks to a goal from Landeskog with less than 60 seconds to play, it was too little, too late.   

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