Wild at Vegas with simple strategy: Must win
Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said the message to his team is pretty simple heading into Friday night's game against the Vegas Golden Knights in Las Vegas.
"They know what they have to do," Boudreau said. "Where we are (in the standings), it's about winning. Not coming close. No matter how good you play, if you don't get the two points, it's not going to work. We know what we're up against."
The Wild are up against a four-point deficit to the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with just five games to go for both teams.
"I think we just have to focus on our next game," Wild forward Luke Kunin said. "Not looking at all five thinking we have to win all of them. Just our next opponent in Vegas, and do the things we need to do to get the win and go from there."
It won't be easy. After Friday night's contest against the Golden Knights, who still need a point to clinch their own spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Minnesota travels to Glendale, Ariz., for a Sunday afternoon contest with the Arizona Coyotes who are two points ahead of the Wild in the wild-card race.
That's followed by home games with Central Division-leading Winnipeg and the Boston Bruins -- who have the second-most points in the league (103) and have won five of their last six games -- before finishing up against the Stars in Dallas.
Minnesota has been off since losing 1-0 to Nashville on Monday night. Boudreau then gave his squad two days off to refresh for the final run.
"We've done it twice before this year where we gave those guys two days off and they responded very well, so we're hoping they respond in kind," Boudreau said.
Vegas has lost its last three games and incurred the wrath of head coach Gerard Gallant for a slow start in a 4-3 loss at Colorado on Wednesday night.
The Golden Knights fell behind 2-0 in the first period and 3-0 about 27 minutes into the game before making things interesting. Jonathan Marchessault fired a rebound shot about 6 inches wide of an open right side of the net in the final seconds that could have forced overtime.
"We should be battling from the first shift," Gallant said. "That's where we lost the game. We lost the game in the first period because we didn't compete, and we didn't battle, and we got out-skated."
"Just too lackadaisical," said forward Alex Tuch, who scored his 20th goal to cut it the deficit to 4-3 with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the game. "We've got to recognize that these teams are playing desperate, but we have to play desperate, too. ... We're not going to do anything in the playoffs if we're playing like this. We have to step it up, all 20 guys."
This is the third of three regular-season meetings between the Wild and Golden Knights. Vegas won the first one, 2-1, in a shootout in Saint Paul, Minn., on Oct. 6, while the Wild skated to a 4-2 victory on Jan. 21 in Las Vegas.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 28, 2019