Jack Dempsey/Associated Press
DENVER – Dany Heatley found it all too fitting that he reached the 400-assist mark for his career with two “passes” off the post.
Known more for his shot, the Minnesota Wild forward clanged a pair of line drives off the goal post, only to have the puck carom straight to teammates and result in two assists for Heatley.
That’s just how things have been going of late for the Wild, who scored a season-high four goals in the first period to beat the slumping Colorado Avalanche 6-4 on Saturday.
Even shots slightly off the mark eventually find their mark.
“I’ll take it,” Heatley said. “We have four lines rolling right now.”
The Wild sure do, with 11 players earning at least a point in this game. Devin Setoguchi led the way with two goals along with adding the 100th assist of his NHL career.
“Anytime you can get that, it’s fun,” Setoguchi said. “More importantly, I got my 100th, and we got the win.”
Ryan Suter started a four-goal scoring spree in the first period to help the Wild win for the fourth time in five games. Cal Clutterbuck, Kyle Brodziak and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also added goals.
This was the second half of a home-and-home between the two teams, with Minnesota winning 5-3 on Thursday night.
John Mitchell, P.A. Parenteau, Gabriel Landeskog and Chuck Kobasew had goals for an Avalanche team that has dropped three in a row. Jean-Sebastien Giguere was roughed up in his first home start of the season, allowing four goals on 14 shots before giving way to Semyon Varlamov at the start of the second period.
Backstrom was solid in net, stopping 28 shots to move to 23-5-3 lifetime against the Avalanche.
Setoguchi all but wrapped up the win with his second goal midway through the third period when he slipped a shot through the pads of Varlamov. It was Setoguchi’s first two-goal game of the season.
“We’ve got such a big, strong team that can skate,” Setoguchi said. “It’s tough to defend.”
Kobasew scored with 1 minute, 53 seconds remaining to make it a two-goal game, and the Avalanche pulled Varlamov but couldn’t take advantage of the extra skater.
Colorado worked its way back into the contest in the second period with goals from Parenteau and Landeskog. But the Avalanche made a costly mistake in their zone when Landeskog tried to send a pass across the middle. Bouchard intercepted the puck and backhanded a shot by Varlamov to make it 5-3.
Landeskog lamented his poor choice after the game.
“Any team is going to capitalize on those chances,” the Avalanche captain said. “It’s deflating, especially because we battled back so hard and got back to 4-3, and then I throw that puck away. It’s frustrating.”
Time is slipping away for the Avalanche as they tumble farther and farther in the standings.
“We’ve got to figure it out here and start to work together,” said Duchene, who had two assists, giving him 10 points in his last five games. “It’s not effort, and it’s not talent; we’ve got both of those. I think it’s just concentration. Everyone is so scared to make mistakes.”
The first period featured two fights, three roughing calls and two Wild goals before fans even had a chance to settle into their seats. Suter got Minnesota started on the right note with a shot over Giguere’s left shoulder.
Soon after, Setoguchi scored on a similar shot on a screened Giguere. Clutterbuck and Brodziak also added goals on “passes” from Heatley.
The four goals in the opening 20 minutes brought the day to an end for Giguere. He sat on the bench as Varlamov took his spot in goal.
Minnesota was without forward Jason Zucker for a second consecutive game. The rookie has what the team is calling an upper-body injury after a violent blindside collision with Corey Perry that brought the Anaheim right winger a four-game suspension. Zucker is on the trip with the Wild and possibly could play Monday night in Vancouver against the Canucks, a team the Wild are chasing in the Northwest Division race.
“That’s our biggest challenge now,” Clutterbuck said. “I don’t think we expect to score four goals in the first period every game, but we expect to play the same way every game.”