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Preview: Wild hoping to extend win streak against Avalanche

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Can Minnesota keep the ball rolling?

Minnesota Wild v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

One week ago, it appeared the Minnesota Wild were destined to be sellers at the trade deadline. After a horrific performance on home ice against the Boston Bruins, it was evident that big changes were necessary.

Fast forward a few days, though, and now the Wild are just three points out of a playoff spot. As hard as that is to believe, the Wild have been playing some legitimately good hockey since that embarrassing shellacking to the Bruins. Now, they have an opportunity to extend their winning streak to four games, potentially bringing them within a point of the second wild card spot in the West.

Extending the winning streak will be no easy feat, however. The Colorado Avalanche are coming to town, and they, too, are looking to extend their winning streak to four games. But unlike Minnesota, the Avalanche are less than 24 hours removed from a Saturday night tilt in Ohio against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Winning the second half of a back-to-back is never easy, and that is particularly true at the end of a sizable road trip.

Still, this is the Avalanche we’re talking about. They are loaded from top to bottom with premier talent — the line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog remains one of the best trios in hockey, and players like Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky are no slouches either.

Oh, and let’s also not forget about that Cale Makar kid. He seems alright at this whole hockey thing. Makar, who just became old enough to legally purchase alcohol not even four months ago, has 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) in 45 games this season.

A game like this will be very telling to general manager Bill Guerin. If the Wild can’t contend against one of the better teams in the West, selling at the trade deadline seems to be the logical option. But if the Wild do take down Colorado, it’s more than possible that Guerin could opt to leave the roster mainly unchanged with the hopes of making a playoff push (even though the odds of Minnesota making a Stanley Cup run are slim to none).

This game holds considerable weight. It’s up to the Wild to determine what happens next.

Burning Questions

1. Can Dubnyk replicate his performance from Thursday night?

Devan Dubnyk was the reason Minnesota picked up the big win against the Dallas Stars. He made a number of big saves down the stretch to keep the game tied, and those saves wound up being mighty important as Minnesota earned the 3-2 victory on the road. Dubnyk has had a rough season thus far, but perhaps the game against the Stars was the start of a resurgence for the veteran netminder.

2. How will Soucy look in his return?

Carson Soucy has been out of commission in each of Minnesota’s last two games due to an illness. With the rookie defenseman back in the lineup tonight, it’s possible he could be a bit rusty after missing the last two contests. Or he’ll look completely fine! We’ll see.

3. Will the penalty kill stand a chance?

It seems we talk about Minnesota’s penalty kill before every game at this point. It’s become the Achilles heel for the Wild this season, and a star-studded team like the Avalanche could have a legitimate chance at exploding against Minnesota’s 31st-ranked penalty kill. The PK could very easily wind up being the difference between winning and losing this game.