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Wild's winning week capped with disappointing loss to Avs

Minnesota unable to capitalize on bevy of quality chances Sunday at Xcel Energy Center

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- The Wild wasn't going to win every game for the rest of the season, but if it is going to make the postseason after a one-year layoff, it will need more weeks like the one it just completed.

Minnesota won three of four games over the past seven days, but was unable to pull off the week-long sweep after a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday.

Despite the result, the Wild certainly looked like a team capable of being very much in the mix for the rest of the season. Minnesota outshot Colorado 36-33 and, by and large, had the much better of the scoring chances.

Minnesota also scored a pair of power-play goals, but was hurt by a shorthanded goal allowed on Sunday. 

Video: Locker room postgame vs Colorado

"I think we did some good things," said Wild forward Luke Kunin. "I think a lot of us would like some of those chances back, capitalize on a few of those, but you know, we just look toward the next game here."

The six-point week vaulted the Wild back to the fringes of the playoff race. A victory over the Avs would have put Minnesota within two points of a wild card spot. Instead, the Wild will have to settle for being within four points of the Calgary Flames for the second wild card and five of the Winnipeg Jets for the first.

The Wild has games in hand on both clubs as well. 

Video: COL@MIN: Spurgeon, Parise connect for PPG

"It's crazy how tight it is and how close each game was as well. That's just the way it's going to be," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "Every single time we play we have to understand how big the points are. And I think we're doing a good job with that and playing with good urgency. It's challenging but I think we'd all agree that this is the kind of hockey we want to be playing."

The loss Sunday was even more stinging because the Wild felt it deserved better. This wasn't one of those games where Colorado, despite its status as one of the top teams in the NHL, was clearly the better team.

Video: COL@MIN: Fiala shows off patience for nice PPG

Minnesota went toe-to-toe with an Avs team currently slotted second in the West and sixth in the NHL. It felt like it deserved at least a point for its trouble.

"We know where we're at, and every night is meaningful and huge for us," said Wild forward Eric Staal. "This one doesn't feel very good right now because we competed hard and it felt like we were right there.

"There was pretty good energy in the building all night. Crowd was engaged, and it was competitive ... unfortunately, we just didn't get enough to get a few more by."

Bruce Boudreau chooses not to break down the marathon 82-game regular season by month or even game-by-game. His mantra is, 'win the week,' and if you stack enough winning weeks on top of each other, at the end of the season, you'll find yourself in a good spot.

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame vs Colorado

During the All-Star break, Boudreau charted his team's -- and every other club's -- schedule the rest of the way and broke down where he felt the Wild needed to be at certain points in order to remain on track for a postseason berth.

He said Minnesota was right on that mark despite Sunday's game, but that will require the Wild to continue its current run of solid play, winning games and putting together quality weeks of play.

"We got 3 games next week. We gotta keep pushing forward, winning two out of three or three out of four for the rest of the year," Boudreau said. "Our break was October when we went 1-6. We don't get a break anymore, so we just gotta keep going."


Postgame Hat Trick: Avalanche 3, Wild 2

Video: Avalanche edge Wild, 3-2, for fourth straight win

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