Wild beat Oilers, secure playoff spot

- The Minnesota Wild made sure the bad news didn't defeat them.

Their season-ending road trip sure feels a little lighter now, with a spot in the playoffs secure.

Zach Parise scored twice and Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves to blank his original team, pushing the Wild past the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Monday night.

"I hope it makes them feel good about themselves," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I thought our defense was good."

With 98 points, matching the fourth-most in franchise history, the Wild did their part. Then Los Angeles chipped in with a victory about 2 1/2 hours later over Colorado that took the pressure off Minnesota's last three games, at Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. The Wild are nearly locked into third place in the Central Division and a first-round matchup with Winnipeg.

"I don't know how all this math works out," Boudreau said, before leaving the arena to watch the conclusion of the Avalanche-Kings game at home. "I just wake up in the morning and hope to see an `X' by the name."

Playing for the first time in nearly three years without stalwart defenseman Ryan Suter, the Wild wrapped up their home schedule with a staggering 21-3 shots advantage in the third period. Joel Eriksson Ek added an empty-net goal as the Wild finished 27-6-8 at Xcel Energy Center, the second-best home record in the league.

With rookies Nick Seeler and Carson Soucy, in his NHL debut no less, playing key roles on the blue line, the Wild put together a postseason-caliber performance.

"You need different people to step up and do important things, and that's going to be the case for us," Dubnyk said. "That was a good look."

Parise has been a big part of the push. The Wild are 24-9-7 with him in the lineup, after he missed the first 39 games of the season recovering from back surgery. Playing next to Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund has given him a clear boost.

"As a group, we're meshing really well together," Parise said.

The Wild scored the first goal for the first time in seven games, when Parise snagged a bouncing puck at his own blue line that Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson was struggling to control with his skates and broke loose on an unabated path to the net. He snapped a shot though Talbot's pads just 3:33 into the contest.

Dubnyk then went to work on his fifth shutout of the season, making some difficult saves, including a denial of NHL points leader Connor McDavid's attempt with his right leg.

Parise provided some padding when he swooped into position to knock in a rebound of Jonas Brodin's attempt before the midpoint of the second period.

Making the 400th start of his NHL career against the club that drafted him in the first round in 2004, Dubnyk recorded his 133rd win for the Wild since they acquired him in a trade on Jan. 14, 2015. No goalie in the league has played in more games (230) or pitched more shutouts (20) since then.
 
 

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