Wild hope to continue run as Avs visit

NHL
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The Minnesota Wild sit outside the playoffs in the Western Conference, but they are making a charge to get back into the race.

Minnesota has won three in a row, including a key division victory at Dallas on Friday night, and will try to keep streaking when it hosts another Central Division opponent in the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.

The Wild sit fifth in the wild-card standings, but only three points out of the final coveted spot.

Minnesota has used a platoon system at goaltender while Devan Dubnyk tries to regain the form that made him the team’s top netminder in recent years.

But Dubnyk has dealt with struggles on the ice and with family issues off of it, mainly a medical issue involving his wife. Dubnyk, who had 31 saves in the win over the Stars, acknowledged it has been a difficult season.

“I’m very competitive, and I have a lot of pride in my game, and it’s been an extremely difficult year in just about every way possible,” Dubnyk said after Friday’s game.

Alex Stalock has played well when he has been in net, and Dubnyk is supportive of his fellow goaltender.

“I’m here to win, whether that’s supporting Al, or getting opportunities to go in there,” Dubnyk said. The most important thing is we’re winning hockey games. I know it’s something fun for people to talk about because I’ve been here for a long time here with a lot of games played. You just have to block that stuff out and be happy for your partner.”

Whichever goalie is in net on Sunday night is going to face a Colorado team that has been on a roll, including a 2-1 win at red-hot Columbus on Saturday night. The Avalanche are one of the highest-scoring teams in the NHL, and the contributions have come from all areas.

One of those areas is defense, led by rookie Cale Makar, who is second on the team with 41 points. Colorado’s defensive corps has scored an NHL-best 139 points this season and could have had more if Makar hadn’t hit the post twice in Columbus.

Makar had a point against the Blue Jackets but found the iron twice in the second period.

Nathan MacKinnon, who had the game-winning goal against Columbus, said Colorado’s defense has been a key to winning six of the last seven.

“Everybody’s talking about our offense, but we’re a really good defensive team,” he told Altitude TV after Saturday’s win. “I think we’re taking pride in that every game. We have 29, 30 games left and we need to be defensively sound going into the playoffs. That’s how we’re going to win.”

MacKinnon added that Saturday’s game was a blueprint for winning in Minnesota, where the Wild play a conservative style.

“They’re another tight defensive team. We’re going to have to play like we did tonight,” he said. “If we’re down in a goal in the third, we have enough firepower to get a couple.”

–Field Level Media

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