DENVER (AP) — Josh Harding was brilliant in regulation and only got better from there, showing why he's one of the league's top goaltenders.
Harding made two glove saves in the shootout and Mikko Koivu scored the deciding goal as the Minnesota Wild rallied for a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.
"If Harding isn't as good as he is, we score a few more," lamented Matt Duchene, who had the Avalanche's lone goal in the shootout.
But he is that good, lowering his goals-against average to an NHL-best 1.49. Harding had 26 saves and then nonchalantly described his performance by saying, "I felt good."
This was a big road win for the Wild after losing in San Jose and Anaheim. That they mustered this sort of come-from-behind effort in their third contest in four days made it all the more impressive to coach Mike Yeo.
"After two periods, I'm thinking to myself, 'Man, we look like we have nothing in the tank. We look tired,'" Yeo said. "There were plays or decisions we made that are usually kind of a result of fatigue. The way they stepped up in the third period, the way they kept themselves in the game, the way they battled to give ourselves a chance to score that goal — that was a big character win."
Trailing 1-0, Nino Niederreiter tied the game with 3:53 remaining in regulation when he deflected in a shot from Ryan Suter in front of the net.
Perhaps only fair, since Colorado scored its lone goal in regulation when a shot clanked in off the skate of Maxime Talbot.
"Two fluky goals," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "They were not pretty goals, but at the same time part of the game."
Koivu's goal was nifty, sending a backhand just over Semyon Varlamov and just under the crossbar. Zach Parise also scored for the Wild in the shootout.
So, is that the type of shot Koivu envisioned all along?
"I'm not going to tell you what I wanted to do because every time we go against these guys we're in a shootout," Koivu said.
After Duchene scored to open the shootout, Harding stopped P.A. Parenteau and Ryan O'Reilly to preserve the win.