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Despite their worst effort of the season, Wild still control own fate

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) and Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) battle for the puck in the first period at the Pepsi Center on Friday, March 2, in Denver. Ron Chenoy / USA TODAY Sports

DENVER—Although the Wild didn't sugarcoat anything in the aftermath of an embarrassing loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, March 2, at the Pepsi Center, they made it clear that it's important not to let too much negativity creep with only a month left in the regular season.

"There's going to be 17 more games that we have to get up for," Matt Dumba said Friday night. "This was a brutal game. ... It's a busy month, though, so we can't dwell on this."

Despite perhaps their worst effort of the season, at the end of the day, the Wild still control their own fate. They returned home to the Twin Cities in third place in the Central Division with a chance to start righting the ship against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night, March 4, at the Xcel Energy Center.

"We have to forget about this one," coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday night before quickly correcting himself. "Well, not forget about it, remember it, and do something about it. We are still in a good spot. It's not the end of the world right now."

Still, the Wild would be in an even better spot had it not been for their recent two-game debacle, which featured a loss to the last-place Arizona Coyotes along with the beatdown at the hands of arguably their biggest rival.

Suddenly the Wild (36-22-7, 79 points) have only a three-point cushion on the cut line in a log jammed playoff race.

"Anytime that we lose one or two in a row, teams are gaining all over the place," Boudreau said. "It's not a positive."

All season, Boudreau had been saying it's going to take about 97 points to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

To get there, the Wild need 18 points the rest of the way, meaning they need to win more than half of their remaining games.

That makes the next week instrumental, as the Wild play a number of teams currently on the outside of the playoffs. After facing the Red Wings, the next week features games against the Carolina Hurricanes (home), the Vancouver Canucks (road) and the Edmonton Oilers (road).

"We have to get back at it," Eric Staal said Friday night, noting that it's important not to let their slide snowball like it has in the past. "We have to come back out and be ready to play at home against (the Red Wings)."

It gets much harder after that, as the Wild close the season with 10 of their final 13 games against teams that are currently in the playoffs.

"We had been playing pretty solid," Ryan Suter said Friday night. "We aren't far off. We just need to put this behind us and move on."

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