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Wild 3, Avalanche 1

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Niklas Backstrom had 29 saves, Devin Setoguchi and Zach Parisse scored goals and the Minnesota Wild clinched the NHL's final playoff berth with a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds left to seal it.

The Wild are back in the postseason for the first time since 2008, when they lost to Colorado in the first round. It was the last time the Avalanche won a playoff series.

Minnesota needed to hold on against Colorado to reach the playoffs after Columbus rallied to beat Nashville earlier Saturday night. Detroit's win in Dallas ended any chance of moving up in the standings.

Minnesota, the eighth seed, will face Chicago, the President's Trophy winner, in the first round next week.

Ryan O'Reilly had a goal for Colorado and Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots on his 25th birthday.

Colorado, reduced to a spoiler role after going 2-12-1 from March 12 to April 10, finished 29th in the league and is guaranteed one of the top three picks in the upcoming amateur draft. It will be the third time in the past five years the Avalanche will have a top-three pick.

On Saturday night, Colorado played like a team fighting for the postseason in the third period. Down 2-1, the Avalanche pressured Minnesota and forced Backstrom to make seven saves in a three-minute span.

Backstrom's biggest save came on P.A. Parenteau's slap shot with 1:39 remaining in the third.

The Avalanche appeared to take a 2-1 lead 4:55 into the second when Stefan Elliott's shot hit off Chuck Kobasew's skate and past Backstrom, but the goal was overturned after a review.

Given new life, Minnesota cashed in on the power play when Setoguchi beat Varlamov with a slap shot from the right circle with 7:40 left in the second.

The Wild had a chance to cushion the lead with 55 seconds of five-on-three midway through the third but couldn't break through.

Parisse gave the Wild a 1-0 lead with his 18th goal at 6:42 of the first period, but O'Reilly tied it late in the period with his sixth of the season

NOTES: Colorado right winger Milan Hejduk was given a resounding ovation when the starting lineup was announced. The last link to the Avalanche's 2001 Stanley Cup-winning team is strongly considering retirement after 14 seasons, all with Colorado. ... Wild right winger Jason Pominville missed his second game with an upper-body injury. ... Minnesota defenseman Brett Clark was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. ... Colorado right winger David Jones was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. Jones, who is in the first year of a four-year, $16 million contract, has three goals in 33 games. ... The Avalanche finished the season with the best penalty kill at home (92.1 percent). Conversely, they were 30th on the road at 69.2 percent.

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