March 31, 2014

Coach John Torchetti knows blowing a late lead and settling for one point certainly won't help the Minnesota Wild's playoff pursuit.

At least their situation isn't nearly as dire as that of the fading New Jersey Devils.

Minnesota finishes a three-game trip looking to hand New Jersey a fourth consecutive home loss Thursday night.

The Wild (32-27-11) entered Tuesday's matchup with Ottawa having won three straight on the road and were seconds away from earning a critical two points. The Senators, though, scored with 7.1 seconds remaining in regulation to tie it and struck again with 30.4 left in overtime to pull out a stunning 3-2 victory.

Minnesota has gone 1-2-1 following a four-game winning streak as it tries to fend off Colorado in what has become a two-team race for the Western Conference's final playoff spot. The pressure especially is on the Wild to appear in a fourth straight postseason after coach Mike Yeo was fired Feb. 13 following an eighth consecutive defeat.

They've gone 9-5-1 under Torchetti.

"We were lucky we got the extra point," Torchetti said. "Some nights like that, you don't get that extra point and you play a great game. We battled hard. We can learn a lot from that game. We should have won 2-1. Now we're on to New Jersey. We got a point, so just move from there."

The Devils (33-30-7) had their own playoff aspirations, but they've gone 4-9-0 in their last 13 and would have to jump four teams for the East's second wild-card spot. After winning back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a month, they surrendered their most goals of the season in Monday's 7-1 loss at Anaheim.

''We would have been happy to win two out of three (on the road trip), but to finish it like this leaves a bad taste in your mouth,'' defenseman Andy Greene said. ''We have to step back and realize that we did take two out of three.''

Keith Kinkaid made his fourth start since Cory Schneider suffered a Grade 1 MCL sprain in a loss to Dallas on March 4, but he allowed six goals for the second time in that stretch before being pulled in the third period.

''It doesn't matter how badly you lose or how little you lose by. A loss is a loss,'' Kinkaid said.

Kinkaid could get the start against the Wild and certainly would appreciate some offensive help. New Jersey has been outscored 13-2 during a three-game home losing streak that is part of a 1-5-0 stretch in Newark.

The Devils did just enough to beat Minnesota 2-1 in the first meeting Jan. 10 and got a goal from Adam Henrique, who has gone without a point in his last four.

Devan Dubnyk didn't start that contest for the Wild but should be in net for this one. He has a 2.10 goals-against average during a 5-1-1 stretch and made 30 saves to beat the Devils the last time he faced them March 10, 2015.

Zach Parise scored in the first meeting for his first goal in four matchups since signing with Minnesota prior to the 2012-13 season, shortly after leading the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final. He didn't have a point in his return to New Jersey on March 20, 2014.

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