It was a stinging 3-2 loss to the Avalanche Sunday night as the Wild narrowly missed a perfect week at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Every loss is painful in a jam-packed tail end of the Western Conference playoff race as the Wild face the pressure to win or possibly see the roster torn apart before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
After coming out of the All-Star break and laying a massive egg in a 6-1 loss to the Bruins, the Wild responded with wins over the Blackhawks, Canucks and Stars before faltering at home Sunday.
Winnipeg (63 points) and Calgary (62 points) control the wild-card spots in the Western Conference entering play Monday. Minnesota (58 points) has played two fewer games than Winnipeg and one fewer than Calgary, but they also have to leap Arizona (61 points) and Nashville (59 points) while also contending with Chicago (58 points).
"It's crazy how tight it is and how close each game was as well. That's just the way it's going to be," said Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, via Wild.com. "Every single time we play we have to understand how big the points are. And I think we're doing a good job with that and playing with good urgency. It's challenging but I think we'd all agree that this is the kind of hockey we want to be playing."
Will this be the week that gives General Manager Bill Guerin the confidence to push hard and make a run at the playoffs, or the week that convinces him it's time to restructure the roster and start pulling strings on the trade market?
"I told the group and they all know they're getting a fair shake," Guerin said in a Feb. 5 interview with NHL.com. "They're getting a great opportunity and I want to see them succeed. But we need results."
Minnesota provided positive results this past week and now they'll be at home all of this week looking to show more. They face Vegas Tuesday, the New York Rangers Thursday and San Jose on Saturday.
"We got 3 games next week. We gotta keep pushing forward, winning two out of three or three out of four for the rest of the year," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "Our break was October when we went 1-6. We don't get a break anymore, so we just gotta keep going."