Winning six of seven has left the Minnesota Wild feeling confident heading into the playoffs. Concluding the regular season with a victory would keep it that way.
With the Wild’s playoff spot settled, they’ll try to continue their recent success against the surging Nashville Predators on Sunday night.
Minnesota (43-26-12) has clinched the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, but its first-round opponent is yet to be determined with Colorado and St. Louis in the running heading into the final day of the regular season.
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It will all be settled after the Central Division-leading Avalanche visit Anaheim and the Blues host Detroit in their season finales.
The Wild have been rolling with a 6-0-1 stretch that includes wins over four playoff-bound teams: Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Boston and St. Louis. Their lone loss in that span came in a shootout against defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago.
They were outshot 45-15, but still managed to beat the Blues 4-2 on Thursday behind a pair of goals from center Kyle Brodziak.
"Our confidence has been starting to grow game-by-game just by the way we’re playing, the way we come out every night," Brodziak said. "We’re not getting down."
Strong play in net is surely helping, though it’s unclear if Ilya Bryzgalov will get the call ahead of John Curry, who had 43 saves against St. Louis while making his first start since a loss to Vancouver on Jan. 16, 2010.
"I was obviously very thankful to get the opportunity, no matter how it went," the 30-year-old goaltender said. "But just based on my career, I know you don’t get many of these. So it’s good to have success and to play well when you get the chance."
The Wild may prefer to turn to Bryzgalov, who will likely be their starter in the playoffs. He’s 7-0-3 with a 1.78 goals-against average and three shutouts in 11 games since being acquired from Edmonton.
Bryzgalov has won three straight starts, including two shutouts, behind a 0.97 GAA and .956 save percentage. He’s won each of his last two meetings with Nashville (37-32-12), stopping 59 of 60 shots.
The Predators will miss the playoffs for a second straight year, but they have gone 8-1-2 in their last 11 after a 7-5 victory over the playoff-bound Blackhawks on Saturday.
"It’s obviously a good sign," said defenseman Shea Weber, who had a goal and an assist. "There’s no quit in this locker room. A lot of character. We knew guys weren’t going to quit. It’s tough to be out of the postseason, but there is still a lot to play for."
Patric Hornqvist scored the go-ahead goal against Chicago with 58.2 seconds left after setting up Ryan Ellis’ tally in the second period. The right wing has been outstanding over the last 11 games, scoring nine goals with eight assists and a plus-13 rating.
Hornqvist, though, has two goals, two assists and is a minus-2 in 10 career visits to Minnesota, while Weber hasn’t managed a point in the past four.