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Sights And Sounds: Wild All But Clinches Wild Card

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

There were many key moments that defined the Minnesota Wild's 2015-16 season. will take a look at some of the most important.

Saturday, March 26, 2016 — After a torrid start to the regular season, the Minnesota Wild accumulated the most points through 41 games (52) in franchise history. Firmly in a playoff position in early January, the Wild were jockeying for footing in the Central Division with some of the Western Conference’s best team.

But a month later, a seed in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs seemed more of a pipe dream than an actuality for the Wild as it plummeted out of the top eight.

The roller coaster continued, and about six weeks later, with seven games remaining on Minnesota’s calendar, the Wild was back in a playoff spot and found itself at Pepsi Center with a chance to hammer home the proverbial nail in the coffin against the only team in the same area code, the Colorado Avalanche.

The Wild entered the game ahead of Colorado by three points, but having played one more game. The four-point swing was in play, though; a Minnesota victory in regulation meant going up by five points; should the Avalanche win in 60 minutes, its deficit would have been reduced to a point, still owning that game-in-hand.

After weathering a quick start from Colorado to the tune of a scoreless first, the man who led Minnesota in come-from-behind fashion to start the season in Colorado completed the metaphoric turnaround with a goal in the second period.

What It Looked Like

What Was Written

From the recap: The win was the fifth in a row for the Wild (37-28-11), who increased their lead to five points ahead of the Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

"Until we're in, you're never happy," Wild coach John Torchetti said. "That's just the bottom line, that's why it's game by game. Anyone can make up points, you've seen it all over the League. That's a great win and we're going to have a nice plane ride, then back to work."

The Wild have six games remaining and play the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday to open a two-game homestand.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game, but I think we put ourselves in a good spot," Parise said. "We've still got some tough games coming up and games we've got to win, but we like the position we're in now as opposed to having come in and lost.

"It's far from over, we know that. A lot can happen, but at least now we can control where we go. We put ourselves in a good spot where you want to keep pushing them down."

Parise opened the scoring after a pass for Colorado's Mikhail Grigorenko didn't connect at the Avalanche blue line.

Parise gained possession, passed to Granlund in the right circle, and continued unimpeded down the left side. He redirected Granlund's pass into a half-open net.

"I guess when they scored that first goal, from there on we just didn't play very well," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "I guess we lost our focus and for some reason they dominated the play. We had something good going on and when they scored that one I thought our game went in a different direction."

From Five Takeaways: It appears Parise's breakout was not limited to one game.

Parise and the Wild talked about how important its game on Saturday would be, and then the effort Parise put forth matched said importance.

The work-ethic that is so signature-Parise was there, hounding on the forecheck, creating loose pucks, turnovers, or at the very least not giving Colorado much time to operate.

Of course, when Parise is scoring he's more visible, and he now has five goals in the past two games so he's been pretty visible.

"He's on fire," Suter said. "He's been working hard, playing hard, doing the right things, and now he's finally getting rewarded for it. It's huge for our team."

On his first goal, his fourth in the past two games, his fifth against Colorado in five games this season, and his 11th against Colorado in 19 games as a member of the Wild, Parise benefited from an all-world pass from Mikael Granlund. It was Granlund's 100th career assist.

"It's just one of those things, but our team has done a really good job against these guys," Parise said of his production against the Avalanche. Going back a few years, we've played in some huge games against them, we've always come in and played well here, we've played well against them, and we were able to continue that tonight."

What It Sounded Like

Parise’s game-winning goal

The final call

What Was Tweeted

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