RALEIGH, N.C. – The Wild finished the weekend exactly how the team started it.
Out of a playoff spot.
Despite climbing back into the second wild card spot in the Western Conference Friday with a feel-good win over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Capitals, the Wild offset that progress by getting routed 5-1 by the Hurricanes on Saturday in front of 16,751 at PNC Arena — this after Colorado jumped ahead of the team earlier in the day with a victory and Arizona tied it with a shootout loss.
And that one-point deficit could grow to three by the time the Wild hosts the Nashville Predators on Monday since the Avalanche plays again Sunday.
The Coyotes are also back in action.
“That’s the way it is right now,” defenseman Jared Spurgeon said. “If you’re not winning, you’re going to be out of it. We put ourselves in this spot, and we have to work our way out of it.”
Two second-period goals in 2 minutes, 26 seconds by Carolina were enough to shrug off the Wild, which was relying a lineup more depleted than usual, before the Hurricanes made it a blowout in the third with three more tallies.
Winger Zach Parise was out with a lower-body injury after he was clipped by winger Tom Wilson in that 2-1 win over Washington.
“We’re not in the excuse business, but it’s not ideal,” center Eric Staal said. “Obviously, Zach’s a huge piece to our team and a great offensive player that has been a contributor and important to us.”
Eleven first-period saves by goalie Devan Dubnyk helped camouflage the difference between the two squads early, but the Hurricanes started to pull away in the second.
“They were the better team most of the game,” winger Marcus Foligno said.
Center Jordan Staal deflected in a Justin Faulk shot at 3:06 before defenseman Brett Pesce walked into the Wild’s zone unguarded to bury the puck behind Dubnyk at 5:32.
The Wild earned one goal back when Eric Staal’s centering attempt banked off goalie Petr Mrazek’s leg and into the net at 8:57, the Wild’s sixth power-play goal in its last six games. It finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage, while the Hurricanes went 0-for-2.
But that’s as close as the Wild would get, with Mrazek airtight the rest of the way to total 24 saves. Carolina, however, wasn’t done scoring.
“If we could’ve held them in the first five minutes [of the third],” coach Bruce Boudreau said, “we would’ve gotten an opportunity to score and then who knows what happens.”
Instead, the Hurricanes converted on a top-shelf riser by winger Andrei Svechnikov at 3:27, a one-timer from center Lucas Wallmark with 10:51 remaining and a breakaway finish by winger Teuvo Teravainen at 11:12.
Dubnyk had 28 stops.
“The third we couldn’t even complete a pass, it looked like,” Spurgeon said. “They were coming at us hard but at the same time, we’ve got to be able to make plays and get out of our zone.”
With the Wild stuck on 79 points, Boudreau said he believes four wins out of the remaining six games are necessary for the team to have a chance at clinching — a target that seems tough to hit if the Wild continues to move through the schedule at a stop-and-go pace.
“You can’t go one step forward, one step backward this whole time,” Foligno said. “This is going to come down to the team that wins a couple in a row.”