Wild clinches Stanley Cup Playoff berth despite shootout loss to Vegas

Brandon Duhaime #21 of the Minnesota Wild scores a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on April 3, 2023 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  ((Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images))

Monday started with winger Kirill Kaprizov participating in a morning skate for the first time in nearly a month. It ended with the Minnesota Wild clinching its fourth straight trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite losing to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in a shootout at Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild got goals from three different players in the second period and had a 3-2 lead in the final minute of regulation, but Pavel Dorofeyev's second goal of the night with 34 seconds left, and the Vegas goalie pulled for an extra skater, forced overtime. The Golden Knights won the shootout 3-2 to take the extra point.

The effort was much improved from a 4-1 loss at Vegas on Saturday.

The Wild earned a spot in the Western Conference Playoffs after the Dallas Stars beat the Nashville Predators 5-1 Monday night. It may not be the way they wanted to get in, but they’re in for the 13th time in franchise history.

"We played a hell of a hockey game. Listen that’s our first step, right? The way we played tonight, as opposed to the other night, we were so happy. Five-on-five, we were as good as we’ve been," Wild coach Dean Evason said after the loss. "We make a mistake at the end 5-on-6, but we like the way that we came back from that game."

The Wild still has five regular season games remaining to determine their playoff opponent, and they’re hoping to get Kaprizov back in a game before the postseason starts. Monday, they got a spark in the second period with goals form Brandon Duhaime, John Klingberg and Matt Boldy. Duhaime’s goal tied the game 1-1 at the 3:36 mark, and Klingberg’s on the power play gave the Wild a 2-1 lead at 13:57.

Boldy’s 30th career goal on a give-and-go with Joel Eriksson Ek gave the Wild a 3-2 lead after two periods. Boldy beat the Vegas defense, fed Eriksson Ek, who gave it right back to Boldy for a tap-in goal.

Boldy, who has been one of the best Wild players with Kaprizov out, is the second player in franchise history 21 or younger to 30 goals in a season. The other? Marian Gaborik.

The Wild got goals from Freddy Gaudreau and Joel Eriksson Ek in the shootout, but Mats Zuccarello, Boldy and Ryan Hartman were all denied. Filip Gustavsson finished with 23 saves for the Wild.

With the loss, the Wild drops to fifth in the Western Conference at 98 points and in a tie with the Stars in the Central Division with five games to play. The Wild needs to win the division to earn home ice for the first round of the playoffs, and avoid a potential early round match-up with Colorado.

"We’re going to play every game to get two points, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re not focused on higher in the standings, we’re focused on getting two points and we’re going to talk about trying to stay as healthy as we possibly can," Evason said.

The Wild will have Tuesday off before heading east on Thursday to face the Pittsburgh Penguins.