ST. LOUIS – If the Golden Knights didn't like what they saw between the Avalanche and Kings on Thursday night, they might have cheered up checking in on the Wild's game.
Colorado leapfrogged Vegas to clinch the West Division title and claim the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the NHL after creaming Los Angeles 5-1, a result that sealed a first-round matchup between the now-No. 2 Golden Knights and No. 3 Wild.
That series begins with a game at 2 p.m. Sunday.
In its last dress rehearsal, the Wild fumbled the chance to polish up its play before the postseason starts.
The Wild sat five key players to rest up for Game 1 on Sunday afternoon, and the new-look lineup didn't corral any momentum for postseason puck drop, coughing up a three-goal lead before collapsing 7-3 to the Blues at Enterprise Center to close the regular season with back-to-back losses.
"You could just tell that we're looking to get going here with the playoffs," Marcus Foligno said. "But you just can't do that in this league. You want to finish strong, and it is what it is. But we know we're better than that."
St. Louis scored four straight goals in the second period, including two on the power play from Brayden Schenn, and added three more in the third to flip a sleepy start into a feel-good finish ahead of the Blues' foray into the postseason as the fourth and final seed in the West Division.
They'll face the Avalanche in a series that begins Monday.
"Obviously, it unraveled on us," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "Yeah, it's disappointing. There's no question it is."
Although Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, Mats Zuccarello, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin were scratched, the Wild dominated early.
Nico Sturm pushed in a loose puck 3 minutes, 23 seconds into the first period, Ryan Suter scored on a point shot 43 seconds later and Foligno batted a puck out of the air at 16:04 for his 26th point of the season — a new career high.
But then St. Louis took over.
Zach Sanford went top shelf 5:16 into the second, Schenn one-timed in a Ryan O'Reilly feed on the power play at 8:29 and David Perron's shot from the right faceoff circle tied the score at 11:33.
Another power-play goal from Schenn, who cleaned up a Perron rebound in front, put St. Louis ahead, and that deficit for the Wild only grew in the third.
Perron capitalized again on the power play before Jordan Kyrou capped the scoring with a pair of goals off the rush, at 6:33 and then 15:29.
St. Louis finished 3-for-4 with the man advantage, the most power-play goals given up by the Wild in a game this season. The Wild's power play went 0-for-2. Kahkonen made 20 saves and has been tagged for 16 goals in his past two games at St. Louis. Jordan Binnington had 16 stops for the Blues.
"They make plays when you give them that much time," Joel Eriksson Ek said. "We didn't help Kaapo a lot."
Despite the letdown on the heels of a 4-0 loss to the Blues on Wednesday, Foligno is convinced the Wild can bounce back for the playoffs.
"Regardless of these two games, I think we are a very confident group," he said. "We're excited for the postseason.
''This is what we push for all season long, and there's not a doubt in my mind that we can turn it on and be ready by Sunday."
In eight meetings this season, the Wild went 5-1-2 against the Golden Knights. Every game was competitive, all but two decided by one goal, and the Wild was effective in Vegas — going 2-1-1.
"We know how to play them to be successful," Eriksson Ek said. "We gotta work together, be smart and at the same time play aggressive."
That wasn't how the Wild looked Thursday. But the next time the team plays, the stakes will be much different.
"We're all excited just for what's to come and what we can do," Foligno said. "We know we're special, and this could be a great run for us."