Annunen Outduels McIntrye as Eagles Soar, 2-1
LOVELAND, CO – It was a great goaltending battle on Friday evening as Justus Annunen and Zane McIntyre combined to stop 56 shots. However, it would be Annunen who would have the better of the night, stopping 31 shots to lead the Colorado Eagles to a 2-1 victory over the Iowa Wild. McIntyre made 25 saves. Adam Beckman scored the lone goal for Iowa.
The Eagles dominated play through much of the first period, outshooting the Wild, 11-6. However, it would be Iowa that who would get on the board first. Turner Ottenbreit passed the puck to Beckman, who moved in toward the right faceoff circle before firing a wrist shot that beat Annunen for his seventh goal of the year.
The one-goal lead looked like it would hold into the first intermission, but Sampo Ranta scored with 10 seconds left in the frame to tie the score. Andreas Wingerli took a shot that was saved by McIntyre, but the rebound was loose in the crease. Ranta drew the puck to his backhand before putting it in for his fifth goal of the year. That was the fourth goal that the Wild have allowed in the final minute of a period in their last three games.
Colorado came out of the intermission and took the lead 2:16 into the second period. Dalton Smith moved the puck to Jordan Gross, who blasted a slapshot by McIntyre for his seventh goal of the year.
The Wild controlled the frame from there, outshooting Colorado 19-7. However, they simply could not get a goal past Annunen. In the third, the Wild could not generate many scoring chances, being held to seven shots in the frame. That helped secure the 2-1 victory.
Iowa killed off five power-play opportunities for Colorado. The Wild outshot the Eagles, 32-27.
The loss moved the Wild to 4-5-0 in January and they are 15-15-4 overall, tied for fourth place in the Central Division.
Iowa takes on Colorado again on Saturday evening. The puck drops at 8:05 Iowa time.
By Robert Pannier