The Wild opened the week a point shy of a playoff berth, but it has two more chances to improve its outlook before embarking on the All-Star break and ensuing bye week starting Monday when it visits the Golden Knights in Vegas.
“We just need points,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “From now to the end of the season, it's going to be full playoff mode. I think I looked and there are eight teams vying for three spots essentially. Every single night is going to matter right down to the buzzer. We can't let it wear us down. We just have to understand that it's playoff hockey from here on out, and we've got to make sure we're not throwing games away.”
Last week was up and down for the team; after deflating losses to the lowly Flyers and sputtering Ducks, the Wild rebounded each time with winning efforts to claim four out of a possible eight points. Perhaps this week helps reflect which version more closely represents the team.
Vegas is one of the top teams in the Western Conference and edged the Wild 2-1 in a shootout Oct.6. The Wild is just on two clubs to not suffer a regulation loss to the Golden Knights, as it went 3-0 against Vegas last season. Center Eric Staal has four goals and six points in four career games.
After Vegas, the Wild will go to Colorado to take on a division rival in the Avalanche that currently is a point ahead of the Wild for the third seed in the Central.
“Teams just don’t lose that often, I feel like,” winger Zach Parise said. “If you can, if you can create some separation, that would be ideal for us right now.”
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Jordan Greenway-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Zach Parise-Victor Rask-Pontus Aberg
Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Louie Belpedio
Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn
4: Wins in the Wild’s last six road games.
4: Game-winning goals this season by Parise.
5: Goals for rookie Jordan Greenway since Dec.15.
34: Saves for Dubnyk on the last 35 shots he’s faced.
8: Points for defenseman Jared Spurgeon in his last 10 games.
About the Golden Knights:
Vegas sits third in the Pacific Division, just a point shy of the San Jose Sharks for second. The Golden Knights have won two out of their last four on the heels of a seven-game win streak. Again this season, they’ve been strong on home ice at 16-4-3. Winger Alex Tuch has a team-high 38 points, while center Jonathan Marchessault’s 17 goals pace the pack. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is 27-12-4 with a .911 save percentage and 2.49 goals-against average.