The Minnesota Wild look to pick up some much-needed momentum heading into the playoffs when they conclude their regular season against the host Nashville Predators on Thursday
The Wild (46-25-10, 102 points) are heading to the playoffs for the fourth straight year, while the Predators (41-31-8, 90 points) will miss the postseason for the first time in nine seasons
The Wild ended a two-game winning streak with a 3-1 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday
The Predators are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Calgary Flames on Monday. But they were eliminated from playoff contention when the Jets clinched the final wild-card spot with their victory against the Wild the following night
After Winnipeg took a 2-0 lead in the first period, Kirill Kaprizov pulled the Wild to within a goal at the 1:59 mark of the third period. But the Jets secured the win on Mason Appleton's tally at the 14:06 mark of the period
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves for the Wild, who clinched third place in the Central Division behind the Colorado Avalanche (49-24-7, 105 points) and Dallas Stars (45-21-14, 104 points)
"Momentum is a real thing in the playoffs," Minnesota forward Ryan Reaves said. "I think we gotta make sure that we understand that."
The Predators took a 2-1 lead on Zach Stanford's goal at the 4:02 mark of the third period before Calgary's Mikael Backlund tied the game a little more than four minutes later
After a scoreless overtime, Cody Glass kept the Predators alive when he beat Jacob Markstrom in the third round. After Nashville goalie Juuse Saros denied Backlund, Tommy Novak ended the game with a wrist shot
"All the guys are excited," said Nashville winger Egor Afanasyev, who scored the game's first goal. "I feel like we don't really have a lot of pressure. Guys are just trying to have fun, but at the same time, we're all working as a unit and that's why stuff has been working for us. We've just got to keep going the same way."
Nashville stayed in the playoff chase until this week despite being sellers at the trade deadline, when they dealt defenseman Mattias Ekholm, center Mikael Granlund and forwards Tanner Jeannot and Nino Niederreiter.
The Predators' season was also derailed by injuries. Forwards Filip Forsberg, who has missed the last 30 games, Ryan Johansen (25), Matt Duchene (eight) and defensemen Roman Josi (13) and Alexandre Carrier (16) all have missed considerable time with injuries. Forward Juuso Parssinen returned against the Flames after being sidelined for the past 24 games
Josi leads the team in points (59) and assists (41) to go along with 18 goals, while Duchene has a team-high 22 goals to go along with 34 assists and his 56 points that rank second on the team. Forsberg is third on the team with 42 points via 19 goals and 23 assists.
Saros has been fantastic during his five starts in April, yielding just 1.98 goals per game with a .939 save percentage.
The Predators close the regular season on Friday against the visiting Colorado Avalanche
--Field Level Media