Minnesota has already secured the first playoff berth in franchise history. But the third-year Wild know they won’t be in the postseason for long if they don’t start playing better.
“It was a great accomplishment to make the playoffs,” Minnesota forward Antti Laaksonen said. “But I think we’ve got to realize that it’s not just about making it.
“It’s about having a good playoffs and playing hard.”
Battling for the sixth seed in the Western Conference, the Wild have three games remaining, beginning with a matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
Minnesota is one point behind sixth-place Anaheim and two ahead of eighth-place Edmonton in the West with three games remaining.
Though the Wild are coming off back-to-back wins, including Monday’s 3-0 victory over Calgary, they haven’t been playing with the same intensity they had before clinching a playoff spot.
The Wild are 2-2 since locking up the berth with a 4-0 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings on March 23. But they have scored just six goals in the four games.
“It’s been the same way the last few games,” Laaksonen said. “I don’t know what it is.”
Columbus is just trying to avoid a last-place finish in the West. The Blue Jackets lost for the fourth time in six games (2-4-0) with Tuesday’s 4-0 setback to Philadelphia.
The Blue Jackets established a new franchise-low with just 10 shots on goal. Their previous low was 11 shots against St. Louis on Jan. 3, 2002.
With 66 points, Columbus remains in the West cellar, four points behind Calgary.
STANDINGS: Wild - 93 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Northwest Division. Blue Jackets - 66 points, 5th place, 40 PB, Central Division.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 31): Wild - Power play: 14.2 percent (50 for 352), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.7 percent (255 for 294), 4th. Blue Jackets - Power play: 17.1 percent (67 for 392), 13th. Penalty killing: 84.9 percent (327 for 385), 9th.
SEASON SERIES: Blue Jackets, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: March 15; Blue Jackets, 5-0. At Columbus, Ohio, Denis had 24 saves and Andrew Cassels scored twice and added an assist as the Blue Jackets set a franchise record with five first-period goals. Roloson made 20 saves in relief of Fernandez, who allowed all five goals on only 12 shots.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 17-14-7-1 on the road; Blue Jackets - 19-14-4-2 at home.