When Charlie Coyle took a pass from Zach Parise and knocked in the go-ahead goal, it set off a celebration that the Minnesota Wild hope ends with another postseason berth.
Coyle and Nino Niederreiter each scored twice to give the Wild a 6-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night and possession of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Coyle scored the game-winner at 5:34 of the third period after Parise knocked down the puck at mid-ice, rushed toward the other end and fed a streaking Coyle, who tapped it into an open net.
“I was just trying to get open and enough can’t be said about Parise and Mikko (Koivu) and just me being at the end of it,” Coyle said. “I mean, I get the goal but those guys do the work, they make the plays. That’s the easy part.”
Colorado and Minnesota both have 68 points, but the Wild have played one fewer game and are technically ahead in the standings.
“I’m happy for the guys. They’ve worked their butts off for it,” Wild coach John Torchetti said. “We’ve got a long way to go still.”
Jarome Iginla scored on a one-timer 33 seconds into the game to give Colorado an early lead. It was his 19th goal of the season and 608th of his career, tying Dino Ciccarelli for 17th place in NHL history.
After the game, Avalanche players were asked about the loss essentially being a four-point swing in the standings.
“Now we’re out of a playoff spot and we’re chasing them because they have a game in hand,” Iginla said. “There’s a lot of time left, but now they have a chance to go ahead. We knew it was a big game.”
Niederreiter, who was in the penalty box for Iginla’s goal, scored on a 2-on-1 rush at 10:37 of the first to tie it.
A minute later, Niederreiter set up Jason Pominville for a breakaway goal, his fifth in eight games, to give Minnesota the lead.
With 2:12 left in the first, Erik Haula broke free and sneaked the puck through Semyon Varlamov’s legs to make it 3-1.
Over the last nine games, the Niederreiter-Pominville-Haula line has scored 14 goals and totaled 30 points.
“When you build that chemistry and start scoring, you can start picking on little things,” Haula said. “We read off each other pretty well right now and the dynamics are there for our line. We all understand what we have to do night in and night out with the matchups. We know we’re going to get chances eventually if we keep playing the right way. It’s been great with our line right now.”
Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 shots to help Minnesota beat the Avalanche for the seventh time in the last nine meetings.
Coyle and Pominville each added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Colorado traded for Mikkel Boedker on Monday to try to fend off the Wild down the stretch. The speedy winger assisted on Iginla’s goal, but the Avs’ defense allowed too many good scoring opportunities to a Wild team that has won only three of its last 12 at home.
Calvin Pickard replaced Varlamov to start the second period and made two big saves in the opening minute. Varlamov has allowed 11 goals in his last three starts.
After the game, Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said Pickard will start against Florida on Thursday.
“We made mistakes, but at the same time these are important saves,” Roy said. “I know it’s breakaways and I know it’s a 2-on-1 and we could’ve done better in those areas. But that’s part of the game.”
The Avalanche tied the game in the second when Chris Bigras scored his first career goal at 3:25 and Cody McLeod got his first goal in 23 games at 12:33.
NOTES: Wild D Jonas Brodin (foot) and forward Jason Zucker (concussion) didn’t play, but could return for Thursday’s game in Toronto. … Iginla has 39 goals vs. Minnesota, the most of any player against the Wild franchise. … Colorado D Eric Gelinas, acquired from New Jersey on Monday, assisted on Bigras’ goal. … The teams play one more time this season on March 26 in Colorado.