Staal scores twice, Wild ride 5-2 win over Avs into break


DENVER (AP) – Eric Staal had two goals, including the tiebreaker on a second-period power play, Devan Dubnyk made 20 saves and the Minnesota Wild rolled into the All-Star break by beating the slumping Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Jared Spurgeon, Charlie Coyle and Ryan Suter also scored for the Wild, who earned their fourth win in five games. Staal and Suter had goals on separate 5-on-3 power plays.

Carl Soderberg and Tyson Barrie scored for an Avalanche team that drops to 3-7 in January and keeps slipping in the Central Division chase. Philipp Grubauer stopped 23 shots as he got the start over Semyon Varlamov with Colorado searching for consistency in net.

Dubnyk flashed his All-Star form to improve to 18-12-1 all-time against Colorado. That’s his most wins versus one opponent.

Staal broke a second-period tie during a two-man advantage – and another missing a stick. On the play, Colorado forward Matt Calvert broke his stick and couldn’t cover Staal down low. Staal knocked in a pinpoint pass from Mikael Granlund through the middle.

With 22.1 seconds remaining in the middle period, Coyle made it a 4-2 advantage. That was more than enough for Dubnyk, an All-Star for a third time. Still, Suter tallied another with a pair of Colorado players in the penalty box.

There was a worrisome moment for Colorado late in the second when Nathan MacKinnon took a puck off his left skate. He was grimacing in pain on the bench before quickly returning.

The Avalanche took a one-goal lead on two occasions in the first period, only to be answered in short time. After Soderberg scored, Staal tied it up 1:08 later. And after Barrie gave Colorado a 2-1 advantage, Spurgeon soon knotted it back up with a liner over Grubauer’s glove.

Before the game, Colorado honored All-Stars Mikko Rantanen, MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog with a tribute. The linemates have combined for 199 points this season, including MacKinnon and Rantanen picking up assists on Barrie’s goal.

Minnesota and Colorado are now idle for the rest of the month due to the All-Star break and the bye week. The break couldn’t come at a better time for the Avs.

“It’s good for our bodies and our minds,” Landeskog said. “Recharge and rest up.”

NOTES: Wild C Eric Fehr (lower body) could be back after the break. He’s missed nine games. … Wearing No. 77, D Brad Hunt was in the lineup after being acquired by the Wild in a deal with Vegas on Monday. Hunt played college hockey at Bemidji State in Minnesota and his wife is from the state. “We have a baby on the way. She’s excited for him to be born in Minnesota,” Hunt said. … Avs D Erik Johnson (head) missed a second straight game.


Wild: Off until Feb. 1 when they play in Dallas.

Avalanche: On hiatus until Feb. 2 when they host Vancouver. Barrie said for the break he’s going to “find a beach somewhere and relax.”

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AP-WF-01-24-19 0527GMT


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