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Preview: Wild at Avalanche

Minnesota tries to stay sharp before playoffs; Colorado plays last home game of season

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

WILD (47-25-8) at AVALANCHE (22-54-3)

9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-N, NHL.TV


Wild team scope

The Minnesota Wild have clinched second place in the Central Division with two regular-season games remaining. They need one win for 48 and two points for 104 to match Wild records set in 2006-07. "We've got a lot to play for still," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We have to ramp it up for the playoffs and if you ever get deeper, the most points gets home-ice advantage and we want that. I always find that if you start taking things lightly, it's hard to get back on track. If you start thinking, 'Oh, it doesn't mean anything, and now it does,' it's tough to ramp it up. I had a coach once who always said, 'It's not like a faucet, you can't turn it on and off when you want to.'" Forward Jason Zucker will play after missing three games because of a lower-body injury. He skated at right wing with left wing Charlie Coyle and center Martin Hanzal  during the morning skate. Center Mikko Koivu is expected to get the night off. Goalie Devan Dubnyk will make his third consecutive start. He has an NHL career-high 39 wins, a Wild record. Dubnyk had 27 saves in a 5-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. The Wild are 3-1-2 in their past six games.


Avalanche team scope

Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen will miss his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury. Rantanen and Matt Duchene share the Avalanche goal-scoring lead with 18 goals each entering Colorado's final home game. Rantanen might play at the Dallas Stars on Saturday or at the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, coach Jared Bednar said. The Avalanche have won back-to-back games at Pepsi Center, where they are 13-25-2. They are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, when they had a season-high 51 shots on goal and came back after trailing 3-0. "Things are winding down here and we liked the way we played in our last two home games," Bednar said. "Our goal is to focus on tonight's game and make sure we're putting ourselves in the same position, playing hard and trying to finish things out at home on a high note and win three in a row." Goalie Calvin Pickard will start. He made 24 saves against the Blackhawks.


Wild projected lineup

Nino Niederreiter -- Eric Staal -- Jason Pominville

Zach Parise -- Jordan Schroeder -- Mikael Granlund

Charlie Coyle -- Martin Hanzal -- Jason Zucker

Erik Haula -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Ryan White

Ryan Suter -- Nate Prosser

Marco Scandella -- Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin -- Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Mikko Koivu

Injured: Jared Spurgeon (lower body), Chris Stewart (illness)


Avalanche projected lineup

Sven Andrighetto -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Rene Bourque

Matt Nieto -- J.T. Compher -- Matt Duchene

Gabriel Landeskog -- Tyson Jost -- Rocco Grimaldi

Mikhail Grigorenko -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau

Mark Barberio -- Erik Johnson

Francois Beauchemin -- Tyson Barrie

Anton Lindholm -- Duncan Siemens

Calvin Pickard

Jeremy Smith

Scratched: Joe Colborne, Cody Goloubef, John Mitchell, Fedor Tyutin, Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: Mikko Rantanen (lower body)


Status report

Spurgeon, who was injured Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes, is on the trip and might play Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes, Boudreau said.


Who's hot

Staal has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in his past 15 games. ... Parise has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games. ... Andrighetto has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past seven games. ... MacKinnon has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past seven games. 

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