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Wild’s revival continues with win over Washington

The Wild are back within arm’s reach of a playoff spot. It’s no time to slow down.

“We need to get on a run,” veteran wing Marcus Foligno said. “We need to put a winning streak together — and now we’ve got three.”

Foligno, linemate Joel Eriksson Ek and Brock Faber each scored goals, and Marcus Johansson added two, as the Wild beat the Washington Capitals, 5-3, on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center for their third consecutive win.

The victory is the Wild’s fourth in five games and pulled them within four points of idle Nashville for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot — with a head-to-head matchup with the Predators on Thursday at the X.

“Every time we play now, we’ve got to take one game at a time and don’t look too far ahead,” said Eriksson Ek, who reached 20 goals for the third consecutive season. “So, yeah, every game is important for us right now.”

Filip Gustavsson stopped 31 of 34 shots, and Eriksson Ek added two assists for Minnesota, which was eight points out of a playoff spot, and five behind the 12th-place team in the West, on Jan. 15. With Tuesday’s win, the Wild jumped St. Louis for 12th place and are tied with 11th-place Seattle and 10th-place Calgary with 47 points.

Those aren’t exactly juggernaut numbers, but they’re much better than they were a little more than a week ago, when they stumbled into the midpoint of the season with eight losses in nine games. That afternoon, general manager Bill Guerin said he needed to see something from his team before the team starts its all-star break on Sunday.

Since then, they finished a tough Eastern Conference road trip with a 2-1 record — beating No. 2 Florida and No. 5 Carolina — and won two at home.

“Going into the road trip, we had a big focus on team identity and individual identities,” coach John Hynes said. “We didn’t perform that way (in a 7-3 loss at) Tampa. The last three games we certainly have. (We need to) get to that and keep the mindset.”

Anthony Mantha scored two goals, T.J. Oshie added one, and Darcy Kuember stopped 25 of 30 shots for the Capitals, who were jumped on early by the Wild.

Faber broke the seal with just 97 seconds off the clock, and three minutes later, Foligno made it 2-0 when he gloved a deflected shot from Matt Boldy, dropped it in the crease and shoved it past Kuemper for a 2-0 lead at 4:42.

“I think everyone kept staking around, and I was kind of alone, and I just thought, ‘I have time,’ ” Foligno said. “I don’t think Kuemps really saw it — too much traffic in front of him. And he’s kind of looking at Boldy, like maybe it was up in the air or something, and I was able to drop it … It didn’t go in, and I was able to whack in to get it in before it crossed the goal line.”

Johansson increased the Wild’s lead to three when he skated the puck out of his own zone, across to the neutral zone and into the left circle and fired a wrist shot far side that crept underneath Kuemper’s glove at 6:20 to make it 3-0.

“The start puts us in a really, really difficult spot as a group,” Washington coach Spencer Carbery said. “Really thought we did some good things to try to get back into that game, but the hole obviously is too much to overcome.”

Eriksson Ek scored on a rush, sending a wrist shot past Keumper to make it 4-1 at 1:37 of the third period, and Johansson added an even strength goal to make it 5-1 at 13:37.

After playing Nashville on Thursday, the Wild play host to Anaheim to close out Hockey Day in Minnesota with an 8 p.m. puck drop.

“We feel like we’re playing a strong game right now, and now the challenge for us is to continue that moving forward into the break,” Hynes said.