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Wild's path to the playoffs will come away from home

Five of Minnesota's final eight games come away from Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild has had plenty of success this season

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe /

ST. PAUL -- The path to the Stanley Cup Playoffs will come on the road for the Wild. 

Following a disappointing five-game homestand where the Wild captured just three of a possible 10 points, Minnesota will have to summon all of its might and reel off some wins away from home if it desires to reach the postseason for a seventh consecutive season.

That's just the reality.

A 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night made sure of that. The defeat dropped the Wild to 1-3-1 on its season-long span of games at home and left Minnesota a mystifying 15-16-7 on its home surface this season.

Video: Boudreau postgame reaction vs. Colorado

"We've said this on maybe the last three homestands that we've had," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "It's very unfortunate that we haven't had the success at home this year that this team has had every year almost in its existence."

The good news for the Wild is that nearly all of its signature wins this season have come in hostile environments. 

Minnesota has had success in recent weeks scoring victories in Winnipeg, in Calgary and in Tampa, three of the toughest places for visitors in the NHL.

It will get tested again this weekend with back-to-back games in Washington against the defending Stanley Cup champions and in Raleigh against the resurgent Carolina Hurricanes. 

Games in Las Vegas, in Glendale and in Dallas also loom over the final three weeks. Every single one of those teams is currently inside the playoff bubble. 

Video: COL@MIN: Parise tips in Suter's shot for PPG

"There should be with the comfort that we've had and the wins that we've had on the road. We should be comfortable," said Wild forward Zach Parise, who scored Minnesota's only goal on Tuesday. "If you want to be successful in the playoffs you've got to be a good team on the road. Now is a good test for us."

One more victory on the road would give the Wild 20 wins away from home on the season. Just three teams in the Western Conference and less than 1/3 of teams around the League have reached 20 road victories this season, so the Wild would be in elite company of it can do it.

That means the Wild certainly aren't intimidated by the idea of having to take care of its business away from home. 

Tweet from @mnwild: "We're excited to hit the road here and try to get some points. We obviously still believe in ourselves. I thought the guys had good energy [tonight.]" ��� Eric Fehr after #COLvsMIN to close the homestand.

"We're excited to hit the road here and try to get some points. We obviously still believe in ourselves and I thought the guys had good energy," said Wild forward Eric Fehr. "It's key for us to score early, I think, make teams come out of their shell a little bit. When we do that, it's a lot easier for our team to control the puck and to move forward."

For one reason or another, Fehr said the Wild has been more successful at playing that simple game when it has been on the road this season. 

"We get pucks in and we go and hit their D, we cycle and we get ugly goals," Fehr said. "It seems like when we get home, we want to dangle everybody and it just doesn't really work that way. Maybe it will be good for us to get on the road and play some grinding, playoff hockey."

Whether its the pressure of performing well in front of the home fans or wanting to put on a good show, Minnesota has at times tried to be something that it isn't.

"We don't play a run-and-gun style and at times, it seems like we're trying to," Fehr said. "We're not worried about hitting the road, we're just trying to win games. If that's where we have to win games then so be it. It'd be nice to see us pull the kind of efforts we have on the road when we're at home and just play playoff hockey."

Video: COL@MIN: Dubnyk denies Wilson and Kerfoot

For better or for worse, the Wild has had a history of having most of its success in recent years when times have become the most trying. 

Winning on the road in the NHL is no picnic, and doing it this time of year, with points at an absolute premium, will be even more difficult. 

But the Wild doesn't have a choice anymore.

"We've played well on the road, so that's good," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "Certainly not an easy two games, but I like the energy that we brought back home here these last three games because we're going to need that."


Postgame Hat Trick: Avalanche 3, Wild 1

Video: MIN Recap: Parise pots power-play goal in 3-1 loss

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