The Minnesota Wild will try to nail down a playoff spot on Friday, as they host the Edmonton Oilers in the regular-season finale at Xcel Energy Center.
With 53 points, the Wild are even with Columbus and one point behind Detroit, but Minnesota could claim one of the final two playoff spots with a win on Friday. The Wild are the only team in that group with two games left, as the Red Wings and Blue Jackets are both idle on Friday ahead of their regular- season finales on Saturday.
Detroit will visit Dallas to close its schedule, while the Blue Jackets will be at home against Nashville. If the Wild fail to secure a playoff spot tonight, a win tomorrow in Colorado would serve the same purpose as Minnesota holds the tiebreaker over Columbus.
Getting two points against tonight's opponent should be a cinch, if the Wild are able to continue their recent mastery of Edmonton. Minnesota is 3-0 against the Oilers this season and has outscored Edmonton by a combined 12-6 margin during the series. The Wild have claimed four straight and 13 of the last 15 meetings in this series overall, while the Oilers have lost two in a row and 19 of 20 in St. Paul.
Minnesota was able to halt a two-game slide and win for the third time in five games with Tuesday's 2-1 home win over the Los Angeles Kings. Niklas Backstrom posted 22 saves to backstop the Wild to the important win at Xcel Energy Center.
Cal Clutterbuck and Charlie Coyle each scored once to help the Wild get their playoff push back on track.
"That's how you respond," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of his team rebounding from back-to-back losses. "You have to deal with adversity."
Minnesota did lose forward Jason Pominville to a head injury on Tuesday, when he was elbowed up high by Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown, who was suspended two games for the hit. Meanwhile, Pominville, who was acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, is day-to-day and he figures to be a game-time decision for Friday.
The Wild are playing their final home of the regular season tonight before completing the schedule Saturday at Colorado. Minnesota, which is guaranteed to begin the playoffs on the road if it qualifies, is 14-7-2 as the host this season compared to an 11-11-1 mark on the road.
The Oilers, who are tied for 13th in the West, have lost three straight and nine of their last 10 games. The club was dealt a 4-1 setback by visiting Chicago on Wednesday. The easy win allowed the Blackhawks to clinch the Presidents' Trophy.
Nail Yakupov scored the only goal of the game for the Oilers, while Devan Dubnyk allowed three goals on 29 shots in the loss.
"I wish I had an answer for you," said Dubnyk. "We need to be a group of professionals in here and we need to be proud. These games are learning experiences for us and it's not acceptable for any of us with the way we've been playing lately."
Edmonton, which will complete its season Saturday against the visiting Vancouver Canucks, is 9-11-3 as the road team this season.