Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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It was a nailbiter, but the Wild makes the playoffs for the first time in five years

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: April 27, 2013 - 11:21 PM
Exhale. That was never, ever, ever … in doubt.
 
Money in the bank, as I like to say. As I promised on Twitter 30 or so minutes before the game, Red Wings, Wild and Blue Jackets would all win and finish 7, 8, 9.
 
OK, maybe after the 10th Wild icing of the third period I started to get a shade concerned, but in a true must-win, the Wild hung on for absolutely dear life and pulled out a 3-1 victory tonight here at the Pepsi Center over Colorado to advance to the National Hockey League playoffs of all things for the first time in five years.
 
Minnesota’s reward? The President’s Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks.
 
But hey, we can all recast how torturous this April was for the Wild, but the good news is the Wild 1) got in and 2) when the series starts, the calendar could conceivably turn to May. April’s gone!
 
The Wild had to get in. There is almost no doubt there would have been drastic, painful changes if the Wild completely the April swoon. Mike Yeo almost certainly would have been handed his pink slip, maybe as soon as getting off the plane in Minnesota. More on that in the main story.
 
But now the Wild moves on and begins the necessary next step of an organization that’s trying to grow and frankly hopes to one day model itself after a franchise like Chicago.
 
“But let’s make sure that we’re clear, we’re not done,” Yeo said. “We’re just not going to sit here on Cloud Nine and say this was a huge accomplishment.”
 
As of now, it’s uncertain when the first round will begin. Word should come some time Sunday night after the Ottawa at Boston makeup game. The Bulls are at home Thursday at the United Center, so the series may go Wednesday-Friday. However, TV rules in this instance, so once the league sees what NBC Sports Network wants, there is a chance the series could even go Tuesday-Friday if the network wants somebody else Wednesday.
 
But it is real unclear right now.
 
You’ve got to hand it to the Blue Jackets, who just played so well the last month to put themselves in this position. They just won five of six on the biggest road trip in franchise history. Then tonight, they rally on Nashville to win 3-1 and put the pressure squarely on Minnesota.
 
Thousands of fans reportedly stayed at Nationwide Arena and watched the giant bigscreen that showed the third period of the Wild-Avs game. They rooted for Colorado, but the Wild broke their hearts.
 
The Wild and Jackets – expansion siblings – tied with 55 points, but the Wild had three more non-shootout wins than them. Coincidentally, the big proponent for the rule change tiebreaker? Former GM Scott Howson. But either way, Wild would have had the previous tiebreaker, too – most wins.
 
Tonight, please read the new main and the new gamer/notebook once it merges onto www.startribune.com/wild for all the quotes and scene stuff, but Niklas Backstrom had just a huge bounceback game after being chased from the nets against Edmonton after giving up three goals on five shots.
 
The Avs pressed hard in the third. The Wild was get the puck out of the zone mode. But Backstrom stopped all 15 shots he saw and stopped 29 of 30 shots in the game.
 
Zach Parise scored, Pierre-Marc Bouchard iced it with an empty netter and Devin Setoguchi’s first goal in 15 games on a second-period power play lifted the Wild into the postseason.
 
Now, my annual offseason diet is delayed indefinitely, which is good news for us all, because I don’t want to go on vacation just yet. Lots of coverage on the horizon in the Star Tribune, I promise.
 
There is no access to the Wild on Sunday, so I will write for Monday’s paper on the Blackhawks and reaction in the Wild room about playing such a juggernaut.
 
A lot of happy Wild players in that room postgame. More than half the room, like Setoguchi – a solid playoff performer who calls the next step “a different animal” – have postseason experience. And then there are newbies like Kyle Brodziak.
 
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “A lot of guys in here have worked really hard to get to this point. It feels good to be able to take the next challenge.”
 

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NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 4
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 5 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 6
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes 2
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 8 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 12
Boston - WP: C. Buchholz 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 0
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 6
Texas - LP: N. Cotts 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: J. Veras 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: C. Villanueva 6 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 9
Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 5 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 15
Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu 7 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 1
Washington - LP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: C. Anderson 6
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 1
Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Red Bull New York 0 FINAL
D.C. 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
Chivas USA 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Phoenix 77 FINAL
Minnesota 82
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