While the rest of Minnesota is digging out from an early-April blizzard, the Minnesota Wild are off for a relaxing three-game West-Coast road swing to end their regular season.
They’ll start with a game in Anaheim on Wednesday night.
For playoff implications, these games don’t mean a whole lot. The Wild (44-25-10) clinched their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the other night, and it’s highly likely they’ll face Winnipeg in the first round.
Still, the Wild could probably use these games to adjust to life with their top defenseman, Ryan Suter. Plus, limping into the playoffs isn’t always a best-case scenario either. The Wild will look to reach 100 points in a season for the fourth time in franchise history and second in a row.
The Ducks (41-25-13) are in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with their 95 points. Like the Wild, they’re looking to clinch a sixth-consecutive playoff berth. Only the Wild and Pittsburgh have made the playoffs in each of the past six seasons; St. Louis and Anaheim have a chance to join them as well. The Ducks are on a two-game winning streak with victories over Los Angeles and Colorado.
The Wild and Ducks each have one win against the other this season, with both games needing extra time. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba scored the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory Dec. 8 in Anaheim, and the Ducks won an 11-round shootout on the road Feb. 17. The Wild are 13-17-1 all-time in Anaheim.
Zach Parise is on a tear lately, with another two goals in Monday’s game against Edmonton. He’s riding a seven-game point streak with seven goals and two assists in that span. He has 12 goals in his past 17 games and five goals in the past three games. Parise has 12 goals since the beginning of March, tied for second-best in the league. He’s set to play in his 41st game of the season after missing the first 39 of the year.
The Wild are 10-2-1 when Parise scores a goal this season. In the milestone watch, Parise is two power-play goals away from the 100 mark. Parise has 47 career multi-goal games.
The Wild’s penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal in their past six games, going 17-for-17. Points leader Eric Staal was held off the scoresheet in the past two games and has just one goal in his past six games.
Anaheim’s top goalie John Gibson (31-18-7) was injured in the recent Colorado game on April 1; he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Backup Ryan Miller (9-6-6) should get the start, and they called up Reto Berra from their AHL affiliate. Defenseman Cam Fowler also went down with an injury against Colorado and will miss anywhere from two to six weeks with a shoulder injury.
Wednesday and Thursday is the final back-to-back series for the Wild this season. They’re 8-5-1 on the first night.
- Luke Kunin (ACL tear in left knee), out for season, 13 games
- Jared Spurgeon (right hamstring tear), 9 games
- Gustav Olofsson (upper body), 2 games
- Ryan Suter (right ankle fracture), out for season, 1 game
Total man games lost: 139 games