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4 games to go, 4 points back: Wild need help in wild-card race

Friday's win over Vegas was big, but Minnesota will need help.

Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves to lead the Wild to a 3-2 road victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night, but all it did was help Minnesota keep pace in the wild-card race as the season's end nears. 

Minnesota (81 points) is chasing Arizona (82 points) and Colorado (85 points) for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference playoff race, and Colorado's 3-2 shootout win over Arizona didn't do anything to help Minnesota's playoff chances. 

Wild-card standings:

  1. Stars: 88 points
  2. Avalanche: 85 points
  3. Coyotes: 82 points
  4. Wild: 81 points

Minnesota and Arizona play on Sunday in what could be a season killer for the losing team.

"We've got to focus on our next game. Our next game is probably going to be the toughest game of the year," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "I think whoever loses is probably for sure out."

A win gets the Wild to 83 points with three games to go in the final week of the regular season. 

  • Sunday: at Arizona
  • Tuesday: vs. Winnipeg
  • Thursday: vs. Boston
  • Saturday: at Dallas

Unfortunately, the Wild does not have another game against Colorado, who is idle Sunday before playing back-to-back Monday and Tuesday and then closing the season Thursday and Saturday.  

  • Monday: at St. Louis
  • Tuesday: vs. Edmonton
  • Thursday: vs. Winnipeg
  • Saturday: at San Jose

The Avs are 0-1-2 against St. Louis, 1-1 against Edmonton, 2-2 against Winnipeg and 0-1 against San Jose. 

Best-case scenario is that the Wild beats Arizona on Sunday and the Avs lose at St. Louis on Monday, setting the stage for a monstrous Tuesday night in which both the Wild and Avs have home games. 

If Minnesota loses in regulation to Arizona on Sunday and Colorado beats St. Louis on Monday, the Wild would be down six points with three games to go. It wouldn't completely eliminate them, but it would force them to win out and Colorado to lose out to have a chance of getting in. 

According to playoff probabilities from Hockey Reference, the Wild has a 5.5 percent chance to make the playoffs, which is actually up from the 3.7 percent chance they had just a couple of days ago. 

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