The Minnesota Wild have been difficult to score against while posting the league’s best record over the last month.
The Colorado Avalanche haven’t solved Minnesota’s goaltenders all season, though they’ve been better offensively of late.
Minnesota could become the first team in 87 years to record four straight shutouts against an opponent in a single season Saturday night at Colorado.
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The Wild (32-22-7) are a league-best 12-2-1 over their last 15 as they seek a third straight playoff berth. While the No. 3 position in the Central Division may be out of reach with eight points separating them from Chicago, they are one point ahead of Calgary and three ahead of San Jose for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.
"We’re still in a tough race, to get there and then we have to take it game by game," said Nino Niederreiter, who recorded his 20th and 21st goals in Thursday’s 4-2 win at Nashville.
Minnesota has surrendered 1.5 goals per game in its last 15, including one power-play goal on 37 opportunities. It had been allowing 2.9 goals per game previously.
Devan Dubnyk, acquired from Arizona on Jan. 14, has posted four shutouts while starting the last 15 games. He made 27 saves against the Predators as the Wild handed the league’s best home team its second loss in 17 contests on its home ice.
"Any chance we gave up, (Dubnyk), like he has been for the last who knows how long, has been great for us," Kyle Brodziak, who had a goal and an assist and is plus-5 over the last 15, told the league’s official website.
The Wild have shut out Colorado in three meetings this season, outscoring the Avalanche 9-0 while limiting them to 64 shots. No team has shut out the same opponent in four straight meetings in a single season since the 1927-28 Pittsburgh Pirates did it against the Boston Bruins.
Darcy Kuemper was responsible for the season-opening shutouts on Oct. 9 and 11 while Dubnyk made 18 saves in a 1-0 home win on Feb. 7. Dubnyk is 4-2-0 with a 1.85 goals-against average in his last six starts versus Colorado.
Minnesota’s eight shutouts and Colorado’s eight shutouts against are both tied for the second most in the NHL.
The Avalanche (27-24-11) have averaged 3.6 goals during a 5-2-0 stretch after ranking 25th previously with 2.4 goals per game. They pulled within six points of Minnesota with Friday’s 5-4 shootout win in Dallas.
Colorado tied the Stars three times after trailing by a goal or more with Gabriel Landeskog forcing overtime by scoring with 6:43 left in regulation.
"We were certainly not happy after 40 minutes of play," coach Patrick Roy said. "But we played really well in the third period. That’s the type of hockey we’re capable (of playing)."
Landeskog has six goals and three assists over his last eight games.
Nathan MacKinnon was the last Avalanche player to score a goal against Minnesota in a 5-4 home victory on Jan. 30, 2014.
Zach Parise has two goals and two assists in the season series while Charlie Coyle has four goals in his last five meetings.
These teams meet once more in St. Paul on March 8. The Avalanche own the only season sweep in series history, winning five meetings in Minnesota’s inaugural 2000-01 campaign.