After waking up on Feb. 14 in 11th place in the Western Conference, 51 days later, the Minnesota Wild clinched a spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It was a rollercoaster season for Minnesota, who accrued 52 points in its first 41 games, a record-setting first half.
But the Wild would earn four points over games 42 through 56, going 1-11-2, and seeing it slip in the Western Conference standings.
Forward Zac Dalpe has never been on an NHL playoff team before.
"But I don't want to jinx it," he said.
Dalpe finds himself in a unique situation on Tuesday: He is set to make his Minnesota Wild debut in game number 81 of the season, on a night a win in any fashion would clinch the Wild a spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Minnesota Wild will get defenseman Jared Spurgeon back when it has its second chance to clinch a spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.
Forward Zac Dalpe, and defenseman Chirstian Folin, recalled from the Iowa Wild on Monday, will also both be in the lineup. It will Dalpe's Minnesota Wild debut.
Spurgeon has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury he sustained last Thursday against the Ottawa Senators. It came on Spureon's second shift of the game; the Wild played the final 57 minutes of regulation with five defensemen.
The Minnesota Wild knows how much the tide and the narrative can turn if it can come out Tuesday, play a complete game against the San Jose Sharks, and end a three-game losing streak.
Of course, a win in any fashion would also clinch the Wild a spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, which was preceded by a season-best six-game winning streak, the Wild said it has gotten away from playing the type of game it needs to be successful.
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."