Minnesota Wild continue Western Conference surge with 4-2 win over Avalanche

Frederick Gaudreau #89 of the Minnesota Wild hugs teammate Joel Eriksson Ek #14 after Gaudreau scored a goal in the game against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena on March 29, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.  ((Photo by Ashley Potts/NHLI via Getty Images))

Wednesday night for the Minnesota Wild was about more than getting another win without injured star Kirill Kaprizov.

The Wild was on the road in a full house at the Colorado Avalanche, facing the defending Stanley Cup champions with a chance to put some breathing room between the two rivals in the Western Conference playoff picture and the Central Division.

With the help of a pair of short-handed goals from Freddi Gaudreau, mission accomplished for the Wild in a 4-2 win. Facing an explosive offense that gave Filip Gustavsson everything he could handle in the third period, the goalie came up with 42 saves.

The second of Gaudreau’s two short-handed goals came on an empty-netter in the final minute of regulation, with the Avalanche pulling their goaltender to go 6-on-4 after a questionable delay of game penalty called on Jared Spurgeon. The veteran defenseman was clearing the puck when it went over the glass and into the stands without a deflection. Only problem is it deflected off the boards, and shouldn’t have been a penalty.

Gaudreau became the first Wild player in franchise history to score twice short-handed in a game.

"That was karma, I guess," Gaudreau told reporters after the win.

It was the Wild’s third straight win, it extended their road point streak to 11 games and they are a league-best 16-1-4 over their last 21 games. Those 36 points since Feb. 17 are the best in the NHL. The Wild is also 7-1-2 without Kaprizov on the ice.

The Wild also got goals from Marcus Johansson, and Sam Steel. The Wild (44-22-9) leads the Central Division at 97 points by three over the Dallas Stars and Avalanche. They are also second in the Western Conference with seven games to play, one point behind the Vegas Golden Knights. The Wild play at Las Vegas Saturday night before hosting the Golden Knights next Monday.