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Wild-Golden Knights game preview

vs. Vegas Golden Knights, Xcel Energy Center, 2:30 p.m. Saturday

TV; radio: ESPN+, Hulu; 100.3 FM

Stats and analytics: Tap here.

For the fans: The Wild are hosting a women's clothing drive benefiting Dress for Success. New or gently-used clothing can be dropped off at Gates 1-5 beginning at noon until 2:30 p.m.

Sarah McLellan's analysis:

Opening bell: Every game the rest of the way should feel like the Wild's biggest. Such is the team's reality when the Wild (35-28-9) haven't been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but are trailing the Western Conference playoff pace by a hefty eight points with 10 games left in the regular season. They're no longer chasing Vegas (40-25-8) for that berth; Los Angeles is in the second wild-card seed. But this showdown with the Golden Knights will still be a litmus test for the Wild, especially after their lackluster 3-1 victory over the the last-place Sharks Thursday.

Watch him: Wild C Joel Eriksson Ek scored his 30th goal vs. San Jose in his return to the lineup after missing five games due to injury. Eriksson Ek is only the 11th player in Wild history to reach 30 goals in a season. He also has an impressive track record vs. Vegas: In 21 career games against the Golden Knights, Eriksson Ek has a team-high 15 points, including two goals in the Wild's 5-3 win at Vegas on Feb. 12.

NHL standings

Injuries: Wild LW Marcus Foligno (groin) and D Jared Spurgeon (hip/back). Golden Knights LW William Carrier (upper body), C Tomas Hertl (knee), G Adin Hill (lower body), D Alex Pietrangelo (illness) and RW Mark Stone (lacerated spleen).

Forecast: If the Wild play like they did Thursday, they'll be in trouble. The Golden Knights are the defending Stanley Cup champions and on a five-game point streak with seven wins in their last 10 games. To have success, the Wild need to be clean in their own end. That means eliminating mistakes that the Golden Knights can capitalize on and smoothly transitioning from defense to offense where they can pressure Vegas on the forecheck and in front of the net. If they do that, the Wild should challenge the Golden Knights, who will be wrapping up a long Central Division road trip with their fourth game in six days.

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