A glance at the NHL's Western Conference standings will tell you the Wild are in fifth place in the battle for one of two wild-card spots, six points behind both first-place Los Angeles and second-place Nashville.

A look at the NHL's schedule will tell you the Wild play the Predators in Nashville on Thursday and the Blues, tied with Minnesota with 62 points, in St. Louis on Saturday.

Ergo, those are a couple of rather large games for the Wild, wouldn't you agree, coach John Hynes?

"This time of year, you've gotta be a little leery of getting into, 'This is the biggest game of the year,'" Hynes countered Tuesday night following the Wild's 3-2 loss to Carolina at Xcel Energy Center. "It's an emotional time of the year. Every game matters, but it's not like we're at Game 72 or 73 right now."

No, the Wild will be playing Game No. 60 of 82 on Thursday against a Predators team that has won six consecutive games. Hynes' warning of taking them a game at a time has merit, but it would behoove the Wild to beat Nashville in a game that has the potential for a four-point swing. Ditto for Saturday's tilt against the Blues, who played late Wednesday at Edmonton.

As the Wild chase a wild-card spot, the cost of merely losing one game is magnified. With their 5-2 win at Seattle on Saturday, the Wild improved to 7-1-1 since the All-Star break and sat two points out of the second wild-card spot. Since then, Nashville has won twice to reach 68 points, and Calgary has won once to reach 63 points, one ahead of Minnesota. Both the Predators and Flames are 7-3 in their past 10 games.

"We've got a lot of games left, and we can't get down after one game," Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin said. "We've got a lot of important games coming up."

Tuesday's game against Carolina fell into that important category, but the Wild couldn't close out a win after leading 2-1 entering the final 30 seconds of the second period. Minnesota defenseman Declan Chisholm attempted to dump the puck into the Hurricanes zone, but it caromed off forward Matt Boldy. That sent Carolina's Seth Jarvis and Andrei Svechnikov on a 2-on-1 rush, and Svechnikov beat Wild goalie Filip Gustavsson to tie the score 2-2 with 25 seconds left in the period.

The Hurricanes scored the winner after another bounce went their way. Just as a Carolina power play expired, Jack Drury's shot in tight banked off Gustavsson's blocker, hit teammate Stefan Noesen's visor and caromed in for a goal at 11:02 of the third period.

"Sometimes those go in," Chisholm said. "That's hockey, so gotta forget about it now."

Tuesday's result continued a recent trend in which the Wild have had trouble keeping a lead. In four of their past five losses, they've led by a goal in either the second or third period but ended up losing 3-2, once in overtime. That is seven points in the standings that could've come in handy for a team six points out of a playoff spot.

The Wild will have to make up those points in the final 23 games, and Hynes believes an even-keel, consistent approach is the route to the playoffs.

"They're all big," he said of the final push. "It's just steady on the rudder, making sure that we're taking care of our own business, and this is what down-the-stretch hockey is. You're playing meaningful games, and all of them count the same."