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Avalanche hand Wild 3rd straight loss

ST. PAUL — Top overall pick Nathan MacKinnon’s first goal in six games was the difference for visiting Colorado in the opener of a home-and-home series with Minnesota Friday as the Avalanche posted a 3-1 victory.

MacKinnon finished with a goal and an assist, defenseman Jan Hejda also scored and captain Gabriel Landeskog set up both tallies for the Avalanche, who improved to 9-2-0 in road contests. Landeskog added an empty-net goal and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 27 saves in his first start since Nov. 14.

Dany Heatley had the lone reply with his fourth goal in six games for the Wild, who will face the Avalanche again Saturday in Colorado. Josh Harding stopped 18 shots in his first home loss of the season. The Wild have now lost three straight.

Hejda opened the scoring with his first goal since Oct. 27, firing a shot from the point through traffic 3:45 into the game. MacKinnon redirected Landeskog’s shot 4:34 into the second to extend the advantage but Heatley trimmed the lead to 2-1 with 4:58 remaining in the period.

NOTES: Harding entered the game with a 10-0-0 home record. ... Wild LW Zach Parise, who was expected to miss at least two weeks with a foot injury, was in the lineup and recorded four shots in 23:03 of ice time. ... Colorado LOW Cody McLeod was ejected from the game for checking D Jonas Brodin into the boards from behind late in the first period.