Wild hope to move closer to playoff berth in Winnipeg
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild will try to move closer to clinching a second straight playoff berth when they play their final road game of the regular season Monday against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Wild had missed the postseason four straight times before returning to the tournament last spring, when they were knocked out in the first round by Chicago. With 92 points through 78 games, Minnesota is likely headed back to the playoffs in 2014.
Minnesota holds the first of two wild card spots in the Western Conference and is five points ahead of idle Dallas. The Wild are six points in front of the Phoenix Coyotes, who also are idle on Monday. Like the Stars and Wild, Phoenix has four games left on its regular-season schedule.
The Wild have won three of their last four games, going 3-0-1 during that stretch. The club picked up a 4-0 win in Saturday's home test against the Pittsburgh Penguins, as Ilya Bryzgalov stopped all 20 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season.
It was Bryzgalov's second shutout since being traded from Edmonton to Minnesota last month. The veteran netminder is 5-0-3 with a sparkling 1.87 goals against average in nine appearances with the Wild since the trade.
"They did a tremendous job," Bryzgalov said. "I'm just trying to enjoy the hockey and help the team and help the guys like they helping me to get these points and help to win the games."
Bryzgalov will get the call again on Monday and is 6-2-2 with a 2.88 GAA in 10 career games against the Jets.
Erik Haula, Mikko Koivu and Stephane Veilleux tallied in a strong first period for the Wild on Saturday. Cody McCormick added the other tally and Charlie Coyle supplied two assists.
The Wild, who are 16-17-7 as the road team, will complete their regular season with a three-game homestand at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota will host Boston, St. Louis and Nashville during the stay in St. Paul.
Winnipeg was recently eliminated from playoff contention, meaning the former Atlanta Thrashers franchise will miss the postseason for a seventh straight season.
The Jets, however, did well in a spoiler role in their last game, recording a 4-2 home win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team currently fighting for its playoff lives in the Eastern Conference.
Tobias Enstrom scored the game-winning goal late in the second period to help Winnipeg deal the Maple Leafs a costly setback. After Toronto's Paul Ranger went off for holding Adam Pardy, the Jets took a 3-2 lead on the power play. Enstrom skated across the blue line and fired a shot past a screened James Reimer with 2:58 to go in the second.
Bryan Little, Jacob Trouba, and Olli Jokinen also scored for the Jets, who have won two of their last three. Andrew Ladd, Michael Frolik and Blake Wheeler all supplied two helpers, while Ondrej Pavelec turned aside 23 shots in the win.
"I thought it was a great effort, start to finish," said Ladd.
The Jets are kicking off a two-game homestand tonight before capping their season Friday night in Calgary. Winnipeg is 17-16-6 at MTS Centre.
Minnesota won the first three encounters against the Jets this season before Winnipeg recorded a 6-4 home win in the last meeting on Dec. 27. That victory halted a four-game slide in the series for the Jets, who are 2-0-1 at home against the Wild since relocating from Atlanta prior to the 2011-12 season.
04/07 10:43:58 ET