Avalanche try to get back on track against desperate Wild

The Colorado Avalanche will try to bounce back from a surprise loss when they face off against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in St. Paul, Minn.

Colorado is coming off a 4-1 setback Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Avalanche fired 46 shots compared with 25 shots for the Blue Jackets but came unglued during a second period in which Columbus scored three goals.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said he was satisfied with his team’s physical effort but said his players needed to make better decisions on the ice.

“We were a little bit off, there’s no question,” Bednar said. “The checking mentality and our mindset to check and play the right way structurally was there right from the drop of the puck.

“But the execution, or lack thereof, and some of the decision-making cost us in the second period. That’s where we gave up those chances.”

Despite the loss, Colorado remains optimistic as the postseason approaches. The Avalanche (47-22-6) have 100 points in 75 games and have locked up a playoff spot in the Western Conference for the seventh season in a row.

Minnesota (36-28-10, 81 points) is much less likely to make the playoffs, but it is clinging to hopes with eight games remaining in the regular season.

The Wild entered Wednesday six points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the last wild-card playoff spot, and they are three points behind the St. Louis Blues for ninth place in the conference.

A 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday helped to boost the Wild’s confidence. Minnesota has won two of its past three games as it looks to gain ground.

Wild coach John Hynes said he still wants to see more from his players.

“We’ve got to continue to grow in that area of understanding playing winning hockey and what it takes to win regularly,” Hynes said.

“At times, we stray from it. We stray from it sometimes in games, and I thought (on Tuesday) we strayed from it in a lot of different areas.”

Colorado features two players who have reached the 100-point milestone this season. Nathan MacKinnon has 127 points (47 goals, 80 assists) in 75 games, and Mikko Rantanen has 100 points (39 G, 61 A) in 75 games.

Minnesota’s top scorer is Kirill Kaprizov, who has 83 points (37 G, 46 A) in 67 games. Teammate Joel Eriksson Ek has 61 points (30 G, 31 A) in 69 contests.

The Avalanche likely will start Alexandar Georgiev in net. He is 37-15-4 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage this season. Georgiev is 5-3-0 with a 2.85 GAA and a .909 save percentage in eight career games against Minnesota.

The Wild could counter with veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, who is 17-12-5 with a 2.83 GAA and a .901 save percentage. Fleury has faced the Avalanche 32 times in his career, and he is 16-12-3 with a 2.53 GAA and a .915 save percentage in those games.

Minnesota is 20-13-5 at home this season. Colorado is 18-15-5 on the road.

–Field Level Media