Minnesota Wild clinches Stanley Cup playoff spot after win at San Jose

Joel Eriksson Ek #14 of the Minnesota Wild celebrates his third-period goal with the bench during the game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on January 20, 2021 in Anaheim, California. ((Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images))

The Minnesota Wild is headed back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons after beating the San Jose Sharks 6-3 Saturday night.

The Wild joins the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals as teams to make the playoffs at least at times since 2012-13, with the other three having won at least one Stanley Cup title. The Wild reached the 2020 postseason in the Edmonton bubble, and lost to the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 in a best-of-five series.

They’ve solidified a spot in the playoffs, but there wasn’t a lot of celebrating happening. There’s still work to do, more to accomplish.

"Your ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup, that’s why we’re all here. But there’s steps along the way and it’s great to make it. It’s a good step going forward," Wild coach Dean Evason said.

The Wild is currently among the hottest teams in the National Hockey League, having won seven straight games. They’re 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. With nine regular season games to play, they don’t have to fight for the playoff lives like they have in the past.

"It’s nice to not have to wait until the last week. Not that the games don’t mean anything for the rest of the season, but just that you know that you’re in a position and you’re in the playoffs. That’s just the first step for what we want to do, and it’s nice to do it tonight," defenseman Jared Spurgeon said after Saturday’s win.

Beating the Sharks also capped off a perfect 4-0 week on the road for the Wild. But again, the celebration was held to a minimum. The Wild is currently third in the Honda West, one point behind Colorado for the No. 2 spot and five points behind Las Vegas. The Wild still has two home games left against the Golden Knights.

There’s still plenty to play for.

"I think it’s important for any time that enters the playoffs to be playing at the top of their game. I don’t think now is the time to take the foot off the gas," defenseman Ryan Suter said.

The Wild has gotten contributions from up and down the lineup, and it helps to have one of the top young stars in the game. Kirill Kaprizov scored his 21st goal of the season Saturday night, after passing Marian Gaborik’s franchise record for goals as a rookie earlier in the week. He now holds the Wild record for goals and points (41) in a rookie season, and there’s still nine games to go.

The Wild is enjoying a few days off before hosting the Blues Wednesday and Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild has one of the best home records in the NHL at 17-4, and they’ll play seven of their final nine at home to end the regular season.


Minnesota Wil goaltender Cam Talbot on Monday was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week.

Talbot went 3-0 in net last week with a 1.67 goals against average and a .953 save percentage as the Wild got two wins over Arizona, and beat the L.A. Kings. Talbot made 21 saves in the first win over Arizona, then 39 saves in the second win over the Coyotes and finished the week with 40 saves against the Kings.

In 27 starts this season, Talbot is 17-6-0-3 with a 2.33 goals against average and a ,925 save percentage with two shutouts in more than 1,500 minutes in net.