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Wild's magic number is 3 to clinch playoff spot

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The final week of the National Hockey League's regular season is upon us and the Minnesota Wild, barring a total collapse, should clinch a playoff spot in the very near future.

Minnesota's magic number to clinch a berth in the postseason is three, and they can go about securing those three points three different ways.

  1. Win two of the final four games
  2. Win one game and lose another in overtime/shootout
  3. Lose three games in overtime/shootout

Minnesota wraps up the road portion of the regular season schedule tonight in Winnipeg. Then the Wild plays home games Tuesday against Boston, Thursday against St. Louis and Sunday versus Nashville.

One NHL scout told ESPN.com that Minnesota's playoff chances depend on its goaltending.

“They’re coming alive,” the scout said. “It will depend on their goaltending. I don’t know if Bryz (Illya Bryzgalov) can show up for more than one night.”

Bryzgalov has been starting in place of injured netminder Darcy Kuemper, who, according to the Star Tribune, still doesn't have a timetable to return.

Minnesota seems to be getting hot at the right time. Bryzgalov is 5-0-3 as a starter since being traded to the Wild from Edmonton. As a team, the Wild is 3-0-1 in its last four games, with wins coming over NHL powers Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, and a shootout loss to the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Bryzgalov will start in goal tonight against the Jets, but the big question is whether head coach Mike Yeo will bring him back out for Tuesday big game against the Bruins. As of now, Yeo hasn't made a decision. Boston, by the way, pounded the Wild 4-1 last month in a game started by Kuemper.

According to The Hockey Writers, Bryzgalov has won only 11 of 27 career postseason starts.

Meanwhile, the Wild put postseason ticket strips on sale at 10 a.m. today. Prices of the ticket strips, which include a seat for each home game of the first and second rounds, can be found at Wild.com.

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