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Parise sparks Wild to big win over Jets, but it’s too little, too late

Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) skates with the puck in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, April 2, at Xcel Energy Center. David Berding / USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL --For the first time since Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed matching 13-year, $98 million contracts on July 4, 2012, the Minnesota Wild have been eliminated from playoff contention.

That much was guaranteed on Tuesday night, April 2, despite the fact that the Wild earned a dominant 5-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

“It’s tough,” Marcus Foligno said. “We played a really good game. It was just too little, too late in the season. We had a lot of chances at home to play like this, and it catches up.”

With the way the Wild have faltered down the stretch, especially over the last couple of weeks, they needed the Colorado Avalanche (86 points) to lose to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Instead, the Avalanche cruised to a 6-2 win Edmonton Oilers to officially eliminate the Wild.

“Unfortunately we’re in this spot right now,” Parise said in the locker room after the game, about 45 minutes or so before the Wild learned their fate. “I think everyone wishes we would of given ourselves a little bit more of a chance.”

It was a noble effort from Parise, especially considering he could’ve shut it down, and maybe should’ve shut it down, as he continues to deal with a significant lower-body injury.

That said, Parise made it clear that if he felt he could help the Wild chase down the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, he was willing to risk it. He got the green light from the training staff in the hours leading up to the game and scored a pair of goals as the Wild improved to 5-0-0 against the Jets this season.

None of that mattered.

Truthfully, the Wild could feel it slipping away despite the fact that they were dominating at the Jets down the stretch.

While the Avalanche faced a 2-0 deficit early in their game, they eventually took a 4-2 lead after a mad rush in the middle of the game.

All the while the Wild were watching the ticker from the bench, well aware of the outcome

“We were on the bench just checking the ticker,” Parise said. “You look up and see it’s 4-2 and it’s kind of demoralizing.”

That feeling spilled over into the Wild locker room after the game with players mindlessly answered questions about their effort, knowing full well that it probably wasn’t going to make a difference in the end.

“Obviously not the situation we wanted to be in,” Devan Dubnyk said. “We want to fight until the very end. The only thing we could do tonight is win the game.”

If only the Wild could’ve won a few more games down the stretch. They came up small when it mattered most with a meager 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games.

Meanwhile, the Avalanche boast an impressive 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games, which proved to be enough for the Wild to miss the playoffs for the first time in the Parise-Suter era.

“If we miss it, we just (have to) get madder next season,” Boudreau said. “We at least know what it feels like and don’t ever want that feeling again.”

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