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Wild beat Avs, gain final playoff spot in West
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Devin Setoguchi scored the game-winner in the second period, as the Minnesota Wild clinched their first postseason berth since 2008 with a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday at Pepsi Center.
Zach Parise and Pierre-Marc Bouchard each scored once, while Niklas Backstrom stopped 29 shots for the Wild (26-19-3), who finished the season with 55 points to secure the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
"We knew they were going to push hard today, but that's how you're going to have to win these games now and in the playoffs," Setoguchi said. "It's going to be fun."
Minnesota finished tied with Columbus, which downed Nashville earlier on Saturday, but the Wild will be the ones heading to the playoffs, as they hold the tiebreaker with 22 regulation and overtime victories.
The Wild, who were embarrassed by a 6-1 count against Edmonton at home on Friday, will face the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the first round when the postseason gets underway.
Ryan O'Reilly registered the lone Colorado goal, while Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves for the Avalanche, who lost two of their final three games to finish 16-25-7.
With the score locked at 1-1 to start the second, Colorado appeared to net the go-ahead goal just under five minutes in when Chuck Kobasew used his skate to put home a rebound from in front, but after video review, the referees ruled Kobasew kicked the puck in to keep the game locked at one goal apiece.
The questionable call proved costly, as a slashing penalty against Colorado defenseman Shane O'Brien at the 10:45 mark led to Setoguchi's go-ahead goal.
On the ensuing power play, Setoguchi fired a heavy slapper from the top of the right circle that sailed past Varlamov for a 2-1 lead at 12:20.
Colorado outshot the Wild 15-7 over the final 20 minutes, but Backstrom turned away all comers to lead his team into the postseason.
Bouchard added an empty-netter with under five seconds left to account for the final margin.
"I don't know right now what will happen," Colorado forward Milan Hejduk, who will become an unrestricted free agent, said of his future with the Avs. "I just don't want to make this decision now. We battled hard, but like so many games this year, we just came up short."
Parise pounded the puck through Varlamov's five-hole for a 1-0 lead at the 6:42 mark of the first, but O'Reilly's one-timer from the low right circle with 1:53 left in the period sent the teams into the second tied at 1-1.
Colorado finished 12-9-3 at home ... The Wild went 12-11-1 on the road ... Minnesota took four of five from Colorado this season ... Setoguchi's last goal was March 29 at Dallas ... Colorado will miss the playoffs for a third straight season ... Hejduk has spent his entire 14-year career in Colorado and has posted 375 goals and 805 points in 1,019 games.
04/27 23:00:21 ET
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