WINNIPEG – The Minnesota Wild will have its first chance to clinch a spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday when it plays its final road game of the season, against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Wild is five points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. Minnesota has three games remaining, and any combination of the Wild earning four points, and Colorado not earning four points would secure Minnesota its fourth trip to the playoffs in the past four years.
For that to happen on Sunday, the Wild would have to win any fashion, and the Avalanche would have to lose in regulation to the St. Louis Blues. Both games begin at 7 p.m. CT.
Devan Dubnyk was named the NHL's Second Star for the month of March, helping lead the Minnesota Wild back into a 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff spot.
Over the past 31 days, Dubnyk went 10-2-1 in 14 starts with a 2.06 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. He posted one shutout in a key 4-0 victory at Pepsi Center against the Colorado Avalanche in a game with major postseason implications. He also made a season high 38 saves in a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings.
Dubnyk started and won each game during the Wild's six-game winning streak in March, tying a personal record for consecutive victories.
Defensemen Ryan Suter and Erik Karlsson are two of the best at their position on the planet. They'll face off when Suter and the Minnesota Wild goes for its seventh straight victory and hosts Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
The matchup is a reminder of how there isn’t one blueprint to being a standout blue liner in today's NHL.
"No, there really isn't," Matt Dumba said. "It takes all types. On our d-corps, you can go through all of us, and each of us brings something different."
When Erik Haula scored in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, it underscored a theme for the Minnesota Wild that has been paramount to its success this season.
In a league with a hard salary cap, top-heaviness is a symptom that can cause teams to cave. Getting production throughout a line, especially from one's depth and youth is an integral part of a successful formula.
When it comes to the Wild's younger nucleus, it has improved with time as the 2015-16 season has gone along.
Excuse the Minnesota Wild if it isn’t throwing itself a parade after winning its fifth game in five tries against the Chicago Blackhawks this season.
Though in doing so, the Wild did something that had not been done in 76 years, and also became the third team to win every game of a season-series five games or longer against the defending Stanley Cup champion, it didn’t change the Wild's mantra or mindset.
"It’s fun right now, but we know what’s happened in the postseason," said Erik Haula, who extended his point streak to nine games on Tuesday with a goal and an assist, the longest active-streak in the NHL. "It’s a different animal. We’re just trying to get in right now; try to play as well as possible and take that into the playoffs."
Forward Jason Zucker will be back in the lineup when the Minnesota Wild attempts to complete a season-series sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.
Zucker, who has been a healthy scratch the past two games, will play in place of David Jones, who is out with an illness.
"He gives us a lot of speed, and outside speed, and can push the pace," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "He can get their [defense] sitting back a little bit. Hopefully they lose a little bit of their gap, and that's what we want; to create that speed with him."
When the Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1 in the 2016 NHL Coors Light Stadium Series, a trend was beginning to form.
The Wild had improved to 4-0-0 under interim Head Coach John Torchetti, scoring 21 goals in doing so. Minnesota set a franchise record with four consecutive regulation games of five goals-for, or more.
So as questions were being posed to the Wild regarding what had led to the offensive outburst, it was more to rationalize a blip on the radar than a trend.
Zach Parise was named the NHL's First Star for the week of March 21.
In the Wild's three games last week, Parise had five goals and two assists, tied for the most points in the NHL over that span.
Parise scored a first-period hat trick against the Calgary Flames, and now leads the NHL with three three-goal games this season. He completed the feat over a span of 11:12, the quickest hat trick ever in Wild history. Parise also became the first Wild player to score three goals in a period. His third goal proved to be the game-winner.
Boston College 3, Minnesota Duluth 2
Forward Adam Gilmour (2013, fourth round) had an assist, and he, forward Alex Tuch (2014, first round), and Boston College defeated defenseman Carson Soucy (2013, fifth round) and Minnesota Duluth, 3-2, to advance to the 2016 Frozen Four.
Boston College 4, Harvard 1
Forward Alex Tuch (2014, first round pick) scored twice, and Boston College advanced in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament on Friday. Tuch opened the scoring for the Eagles when he jammed home a loose puck in the crease 7:59 into the first period. It was his 16th goal of the season.