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Red-hot Wild win 7th straight, clinch playoff berth

Kirill Kaprizov has scored in five straight games.
Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway

Make it seven straight victories for the Minnesota Wild who cruised to a 6-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks Saturday night, with the victory also clinching a playoff berth for one of the hottest teams in the NHL. 

Minnesota's seven-game win streak is the second longest active streak in the league, two behind the nine-game run the Vegas Golden Knights are on. The Wild are also just the third team in the NHL to clinch a playoff berth; the other two are West Division leaders Vegas and Colorado. 

The Wild immediately put the pedal to the metal Saturday night, scoring 19 seconds into the game on Ryan Suter's shot. The Wild led 3-0 after the first period and took a 4-0 lead into the third. 

Suter, Marcus Foligno and Jared Spurgeon found the back of the net in the first period, and Kevin Fiala scored his 17th goal of the season with 50 seconds remaining in the second frame. 

San Jose cut Minnesota's lead to 4-1 less than 90 seconds into the third, but Kirill Kaprizov's 22nd goal a little more than three minutes later pushed the lead back to four at 5-1. Kaprizov has scored a goal in five straight games. 

Nick Bonino's empty-netter in the final minute was icing on the cake for the Wild. 

With 10 games to go the Wild are in third place in the West Division, just one point behind Colorado and five back of Vegas. 

"I think we're still chasing the top teams. That's probably the biggest thing right now," Foligno said, via NHL.com. "Yes, we did make the playoffs, which is a huge objective of ours starting the season, but we still feel like we can get higher and hopefully catch a team or two. We feel like there's still work to be done. … We're going to work as hard as we can until the final regular-season game and be ready for playoffs."

And if there was ever an opportunity to get ready for a playoff series, it'll be this week when the Wild and Blues face each other five times. They play Monday and again on four straight nights, Wednesday-Saturday. 

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