For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, the Wild are heading to the playoffs. They made sure of that with a dominant performance on Saturday night at SAP Center.
With an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth, the Wild made quick work of the San Jose Sharks, jumping out to a commanding lead and rolling to a 6-3 win. Ryan Suter, Marcus Foligno, Jared Spurgeon, Kevin Fiala, Kirill Kaprizov, and Nick Bonino scored the goals, and Kaapo Kahkonen made 27 saves to record the win.
Though securing a playoff spot gives the Wild (31-13-3, 65 points) some margin for error heading into the home stretch, they can now set their sights on chasing down the rival Colorado Avalanche (31-10-4, 66 points) for the No. 2 seed in the West Coast division. That would give the Wild home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
That’s something the Wild can focus on in the coming days. In the meantime, they can celebrate the fact that they will get to chase the Stanley Cup starting next month.
To say the Wild started fast against the Sharks would be putting it lightly. On the first shift of the game, Suter fired a seemingly harmless shot on net, and it somehow tickled the twine to make it 1-0.
That was a sign of things to come for struggling goaltender Martin Jones. He has been less than impressive this season, and he was downright awful on this particular night.
After allowing a soft goal less than 30 seconds into the game, Jones surrendered a goal to Foligno midway through the first period as the Wild stretched their lead to 2-0. Not long after that, Spurgeon scored to make it 3-0 and more or less put the game away.
While neither team looked very interested in playing the second period, Fiala eventually stretched the lead to 4-0 late in the frame with a good play in front.
That set the stage for the third period, where the Wild took their foot off the gas a little bit and allowed the Sharks to sneak back into the game.
It started with a greasy goal from Logan Couture to cut the deficit to 4-1, and while Kaprizov responded with a goal to make it 5-1, the Sharks continued to fight back. They got a goal from Evander Kane to make it 5-2, then a goal from Joachim Blichfeld cut the deficit to 5-3.
Not surprisingly, that woke up the Wild, and they tightened up the rest of the way, and Bonino added an empty-netter to finalize the score at 6-3.