Red-hot Wild host Avalanche

( - The rolling Minnesota Wild will try to match their longest winning streak of the season when they welcome the Colorado Avalanche for Sunday's clash at Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota has surged into the first of two wild card spots in the Western Conference thanks to an 18-3-2 record over the last 23 games. That stretch includes a season-high six-game win streak from Jan. 27-Feb. 9, a run the Wild can tie on Sunday.

With 79 points, the Wild are holding onto the first of two wild card spots in the West and sit a point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets. They also are four points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, who sit just outside of the postseason picture. Both the Jets and Kings are idle on Sunday.

The Wild recorded a fifth consecutive win Friday night at Carolina, riding a strong third period to the 3-1 victory. The clubs were tied at 1-1 after two periods, but Mikael Granlund and Zach Parise scored in a span of less than two minutes early in the third to lift Minnesota to victory.

Granlund scored at 4:22 of the final stanza to make it a 2-1 game and Parise tallied his 26th of the season at the 6:18 mark.

Charlie Coyle scored in the first period for Minnesota and Jason Pominville contributed two assists. Devan Dubnyk came up big once more in his 23rd straight start in net, making 37 saves for the win.

Dubnyk improved to 18-3-1 since joining the club in a January trade with Arizona and is sporting a 1.60 goals against average, .940 save percentage and five shutouts since switching teams.

Head coach Mike Yeo will likely ride Dubnyk again on Sunday and says now isn't the time to worry about tiring out his workhorse goaltender.

"You can talk about maybe resting or keeping an eye on games two, three weeks from now," Yeo said Friday before Dubnyk made his second start in as many days. "But those games don't mean a lot unless we win games right now."

Dubnyk has strong career numbers against Colorado, going 10-5-1 with a 2.03 GAA in 17 lifetime starts versus the Avalanche.

Minnesota will try to complete a five-game season sweep of the Avs tonight. The Wild have outscored Colorado by a 12-1 margin in four meetings in 2014-15 after beating the Avs in seven games during the first round of the playoffs last spring.

Colorado, which is 17-13-3 as the road club this season, is 0-2 in St. Paul in 2014-15 and has yet to score a goal at Xcel Energy Center this season.

The Avalanche, who are nine points behind the Jets for a playoff berth, have won two straight and three of their last four games. The club recorded a 4-0 victory Saturday in Columbus as Semyon Varlamov earned his career-high fifth shutout of the season with a stellar 44-save performance.

Tyson Barrie collected three assists for the Avalanche, who scored three times before the game was 10 minutes old and rode Varlamov's play to their seventh win in 10 tries.

"He made some great saves. He made some look a lot easier than they were in reality, but at the same time I thought our guys did a good job in front of him, clearing the rebounds," Avs coach Patrick Roy said of Varlamov. "He was solid again, and if we want to have a chance ... to go to the postseason, he's going to have to be our best player. That's exactly what he did tonight. He was very good."

Despite his team playing on consecutive days, Roy could go with Varlamov again tonight. The Russian backstop is 7-8-1 with a 2.36 GAA in 16 career outings against the Wild.