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Wild beat Avalanche 3-1, slip into playoffs for first time in 5 years

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Minnesota used quick defense, clutch goaltending and a power-play goal in the second period to topple Colorado 3-1 in a game that was a must-win for the playoffs.

Just one night after getting blown out in a home finale and putting the post-season in peril, the Wild bounced back in Denver Saturday, riding on the strength of Niklas Backstrom's 29 saves after a disastrous outing Friday.

The Wild dominated the 1st period, with Zach Parise scoring his 18th goal of the season from Charlie Coyle and Mikko Koivu at the 6:42 mark, according to the Sports Network. But Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly scored with under two minutes left, knotting the score at the intermission.

Twelve minutes into the 2nd, with the Wild on the power play, Devin Setoguchi netted his 13th goal of the year, putting Minnesota ahead for good. Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored an empty-netter with time running out in the 3rd period.

It's a relatively soft landing for the Wild after quite a swoon the last month of the season, but things will harden soon enough. The Wild travel to Chicago to play the first-seed Blackhawks, who dominated the league in the regular season and took two of three from Minnesota.

“You’ve got to start somewhere, so this is a big step,” Parise told the Star Tribune.“I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say that I think that just getting into the playoffs is a successful season though."

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