Wild begins brutal road trip in search of a playoff spot

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The Minnesota Wild have picked a bad time to start losing.

Monday's 2-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets was their third straight loss and first loss by more than one goal in 34 games, dating back to Jan. 19, according to ESPN. But thanks to an incredible streak dating back to mid-January, the Wild still control its own playoff destiny.

Minnesota can clinch a playoff berth Tuesday with a win over the Chicago Blackhawks coupled with a loss by either Los Angeles, Winnipeg or Calgary.

ESPN notes that Winnipeg would need to lose in regulation to St. Louis. A loss of any kind by the Kings or Flames is good enough for a playoff spot as long as the Wild defeats Chicago.

"We still control where we finish, so I think we'll all take that," Wild winger Zach Parise said after the loss to the Jets, according to the Canadian Press.

As simple as it sounds, Minnesota has a brutal three-game road trip to close the regular season. Winning in Chicago is never easy, and Thursday's game at Nashville will be followed by the regular-season finale Saturday in St. Louis. Nashville (28-8-4) owns the best home record in the Western Conference while Chicago (24-11-5) and St. Louis (25-11-2) are the fourth- and- fifth-best home squads in the West.

Making it even more difficult will be the tenacity all three teams will be playing with as they fight for the Central Division title. None of the teams will be resting key players in advance of the playoffs.

The good news is that Minnesota has won a franchise record 10 consecutive road games.

As Michael Russo of the Star Tribune says, the Wild "never does anything the easy way." Minnesota needed a win over lowly Edmonton in the 81st game of the season last year to secure a playoff berth, but they were pummeled at home 6-1. It forced them to win on the road against Colorado in the final game of the regular season to clinch.

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