Saad has goal, assist as Avalanche top Wild 5-1
Brandon Saad had a goal and assist to lead a balanced scoring attack and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild 5-1 on Saturday night.
Logan O’Connor, Joonas Donskoi, Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher also scored for Colorado, which has won three straight and four of five to take the West Division lead. Samuel Girard, Andre Burakovsky and Nathan MacKinnon had two assists as 10 players had points.
Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves for his NHL-best sixth win.
Matt Dumba scored and Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 28 shots for Minnesota.
In the first of four straight games between the teams, Saad scored on a one-timer in the third period for a 4-1 lead, his third straight multipoint game, and Compher later added his first of the year.
Rantanen gave Colorado a 3-1 lead early in the second period with his seventh of the season, weaving around two defenders, cutting across the slot and scoring from the left dot. He is the first player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to score in the team’s first five road games.
Rantanen, who entered tied with four others for the league lead in goals, has scored in seven of the past eight outings.
The teams traded fluky goals early.
In his first game of the season, O’Connor’s long shot deflected off Kahkonen’s stick laying in the crease at 3:02. Dumba answered less than 4 minutes later with a rising wrist shot that went off the mask of Grubauer.
Donskoi scored on the power-play with 15.7 seconds left in the frame.
Wild LW Kevin Fiala served the first game of his three-game suspension for a boarding penalty and game misconduct in Thursday’s win over Los Angeles. Fiala scored three goals in his past four games.
Minnesota dressed 11 forwards. Brad Hunt slotted into the lineup as a seventh defenseman.
IN AND OUT
Colorado D Erik Johnson left in the first period after getting crushed into the boards by Jordan Greenway. … Avalanche C Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and D Devon Toews missed their first games with lower-body injuries. Coach Jared Bednar had no timetable for either’s return. O’Connor replaced Bellemare on the fourth line. D Conor Timmins took Toews’ spot. … Wild G Cam Talbot backed up Kahkonen after missing the past three games with a lower-body injury.
A HEAP OF HELPERS
Colorado D Cale Makar recorded his 10th assist in his ninth game. Only John-Michael Liles reached the marker quicker in franchise history, needing eight games in 2010-11.
The teams close out a two-game series in Minnesota on Sunday before playing two in Denver.