ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Wild took care of their end of the deal Tuesday night by beating the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in a hard-fought game.
Now, the Western Conference could help Minnesota secure its first playoff berth in five years before the Wild even play again.
Minnesota, after Tuesday’s 2-1 win, holds the seventh spot in the West with 53 points and is two points ahead of the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets and three ahead of the ninth-place Detroit Red Wings. The Wild host 13th-place Edmonton on Friday night and then finish the season at 15th-place Colorado on Saturday.
The Dallas Stars’ late loss Tuesday night in San Jose further focused the playoff picture.
However, those games might mean little by the time Minnesota returns to the ice. By virtue of remaining points possible, the Wild will clinch a playoff berth Thursday if Columbus (51 points) loses at Dallas (48), which is fighting for its own playoff life in 10th place.
The Vancouver Canucks (59 points) have already clinched the Northwest Division and hold a six-point advantage over Minnesota. The Wild could climb as high as fifth place, surpassing either Los Angeles or San Jose (57), and St. Louis (56), but are more likely to finish seventh, which would mean a first-round playoff matchup with the Anaheim Ducks (64).
Veilleux reassigned: Stephane Veilleux’s return to the Wild was short-lived. Minnesota announced Wednesday that Veilleux, called up Monday, was reassigned to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League after one game in which he was a healthy scratch for the Wild. Veilleux, 31, is eighth all-time in team history in games played and 10th in penalty minutes. Veilleux will join Houston, which opens the Calder Cup playoffs as the No. 6 seed on Friday. Veilleux has three goals and five assists in 33 games for the Aeros this season. Houston faces the Grand Rapids Griffins in the best-of-five first round.