Forward Jamie McGinn went from a playoff contender to a club just on the outside of the postseason picture when he was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche last Monday. That could change tonight if he can lead his team to another victory.
McGinn and the Avs eye the eighth spot in a tight Western Conference as they aim for a sweep of their home-and-home set with the Minnesota Wild this evening.
McGinn's San Jose Sharks were holding on to one of the final postseason positions in the West a week ago when he was dealt to the Avalanche along with two prospects for T.J. Galiardi, Daniel Winnik and a seventh-round pick. The Avalanche were two off the pace of eighth place at the time of the deal, but now sit one point behind the Sharks for that position.
Colorado's 72 points are also tied with Los Angeles for ninth place. The Kings are visiting the Predators tonight, while the Sharks host the Oilers.
McGinn posted the first two-goal game of his career in Sunday's win over the Wild, supplying all the offense in a 2-0 victory. Both scores came off rebounds and were assisted by Peter Mueller and Stefan Elliott. Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and eighth of his career as Colorado snapped a two-game slide.
"After dropping two, we knew we needed these points tonight to stay in the hunt (for the final playoff spot)," McGinn said. "It'll be an interesting race down the stretch here. We definitely want to make the playoffs."
Colorado played without another recent trade acquisition in forward Steve Downie due to a shoulder issue. He is questionable for tonight, as is winger Chuck Kobasew due to a back injury.
With regular starter Niklas Backstrom out 2-to-4 weeks with an upper-body injury and Josh Harding having been tagged for six goals in a 6-0 loss in Detroit on Friday, Matt Hackett made his sixth career appearance and second start, giving up both goals on 36 shots faced.
He got no help from an offense that has been shut out three times over a four- game losing streak and now ranks last in the NHL with 137 goals, one fewer than the Kings.
"It doesn't matter who you're playing, when your down two goals, it's definitely tough to come back," Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert said. "We moved the puck a lot better and had plenty of opportunities to score, but we just have to get that first one."
The Wild are 8-21-7 since they owned the best record in the league on Dec. 10 and now sit in a tie for 12th in the West, seven points behind the Sharks.
Both forward Nick Palmieri and defenseman Clayton Stoner practiced on Monday and were expected to travel with the Wild to Colorado. Palmieri sat out the opener of the home-and-home with an upper-body injury, while Stoner hasn't played since sustaining an upper-body injury in a fight versus Colorado on Feb. 4.
It is unknown if either player will suit up tonight for a Wild club that has used a franchise-record 44 players this season.
Minnesota had won six of its previous seven versus the Avalanche prior to Sunday's loss and aim for a fifth straight victory in Colorado tonight.