Colorado Avalanche star forward Chris Stewart returned to the lineup, and the vaunted Avalanche offense made an appearance as well as Colorado easily defeated Minnesota 4-1.
The Minnesota Wild, playing with backup goalie Anton Khudobin (making his first start of the season due to injury), outshot the Avalanche 33-18 but Craig Anderson was spectacular in his first action after sitting on the bench the previous two games.
Avalanche forward Kevin Porter put Colorado on the scoreboard just nine minutes into the game with a quick wrist shot that beat Khudobin top shelf. Milan Hejduk made it a two-goal advantage just minutes later with a perfect power play goal in the top corner. It was the first Colorado power play goal in their previous 14 tries.
There was a scary moment at the beginning of the second period, as Ryan O’Reilly slammed into the boards headfirst and lay motionless on the ice for several minutes. He left the game in a stretcher and did not return.
Wild forward (and former Avalanche) Andrew Brunette put Minnesota on the scoreboard early in the third period, but Craig Anderson slammed the door. Anderson stopped 32 of 33 saves for his victory since December 30.
Tomas Fleishmann scored a goal in the second period. Ryan Wilson added an empty net goal in the final minute to make the final score 4-1.
Colorado is now 23-2-4 when they score three or more goals.
Finally. After missing 21 games due to a broken pinky finger suffered in a fight on November 27 against the Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche forward Chris Stewart finally makes his return to the ice healthy and ready to play...against the Minnesota Wild.
Colorado needs his help. Though they stayed afloat during his absence, the offense has been sputtering of late, scoring one goal or less in five of their past 11 games. Colorado has been shut out three times during that stretch after not suffering a single shutout in the 33 previous games this season. Stewart should bring instant impact to the Avalanche front line, pairing with David Jones and Paul Stastny. Before injury, Stewart was scoring over a point per game, and his physical presence in front of the net should help a power play that has suffered, going 0-13 the past four games.
Minnesota comes into this game trailing Colorado by only three points in the standings, but only scoring one total goal in their past two games. Martin Havlat and Mikko Koivu are having their traditionally great seasons, but the offense as a whole has struggled. There may be a new face in net tonight as Anton Khudobin will likely get the start for the Wild, due to injuries to both Jose Theodore and Niklas Bakstrom. Khudobin, 24, has yet to make a start this season.
Cody McLeod is also expected to return to the lineup. Craig Anderson will get the start in net for Colorado after sitting on the bench the previous two games.