ST. LOUIS – The Wild clinched a playoff spot almost three weeks ago, but the team won't find out who it's playing in the first round until its final night of the regular season.
It does, however, know the schedule. Game 1 of the first round will be Sunday at either Colorado or Vegas at 2 p.m. Game 2 is Tuesday at 9 p.m. before the best-of-seven series returns to Minnesota for Game 3 on Thursday (8:30 p.m.) and Game 4 on Saturday, May 22 (7 p.m.).
The last three games, if necessary, are Monday, May 24, away; Wednesday, May 26, at the X; and Game 7 would be Friday, May 28, on the road.
Colorado set up the photo finish in the West Division with a blowout win over Los Angeles on Wednesday night, a result that kept it two points back of Vegas for the top speed with one game to go.
If the Avalanche wins again tonight against the Kings, the team will leapfrog the Golden Knights and claim first place since it owns the tiebreaker – boasting more regulation wins than Vegas.
But if the Avalanche loses, the Golden Knights will stay atop the division.
And this affects the Wild since whoever finishes in second will take on the Wild in Round 1.
Against either team the Wild will open on the road since the Avalanche's win ensured the Wild couldn't catch up, even if the Wild did win Wednesday instead of getting blanked 4-0 by the Blues at Enterprise Center.
"As the visiting team, you just want to make sure your game's tight," defenseman Matt Dumba said. "You're trying to steal a couple on the road. That'd be ideal."
Although the Wild had a decent start Wednesday as the road team, getting quality looks against St. Louis, the pressure never culminated in any offense.
At the other end, when the Blues got to the front of the Wild's net, they took advantage – scoring twice in the first period on shots in tight. Same with the third goal in the second.
"You give these guys a little bit of room they're really good," winger Marcus Johansson said. "They're good down low, and they find the middle."
Give kudos to St. Louis goalie Ville Husso for stymieing the Wild; he came up with 31 saves for his first career shutout, and many were difficult stops. He made 10 on rookie Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello alone, ending Kaprizov's career-long six-game point streak at six games.
"Their guy played great in net," coach Dean Evason said.
The Wild will wrap up its regular season tonight with a rematch against the Blues, and the team was deciding after Wednesday's game whether to ice the same lineup or rest players ahead of the playoffs.
If the team does change up its look, Zach Parise could draw in after sitting as a healthy scratch the past three games.