ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau believes the typical sense of urgency to make a playoff push is hitting teams earlier than normal this season.
It certainly seemed that way for the Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Disappointing home losses and tightening standings have a way of doing that.
“The sense of urgency is there,” Boudreau said. “I’ve got to believe it’s going to be quite a race from here on in.”
Zach Parise scored his team-leading 20th goal and Devan Dubnyk had 19 saves as the Wild held off the Blue Jackets 2-1.
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The Wild bounced back from a listless 3-0 defeat to Anaheim by sending the Blue Jackets to their second straight loss.
Jordan Greenway also scored his ninth goal for Minnesota, which pulled into a tie with the Ducks for the final playoff spot in the West.
“I think we were all disappointed with last game,” Dubnyk said of Thursday night’s loss, in which Minnesota allowed three first-period goals. “We have a lot of pride and our fans are great here and we don’t like giving them efforts like that. I think everybody was ready and prepared to come out and play, regardless of how the game went.”
The Blue Jackets were coming off a tough loss of their own, falling 4-1 on Friday night at home to Montreal. That loss knocked them out of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Columbus won’t play again until January 29. While this certainly wasn’t the way they wanted to enter the All-Star break, the players said they plan to use the time away to reset.
“It’s going to feel good to get a break,” Pierre-Luc Dubois said. “I didn’t think yesterday we played horribly. I think we still could have got a point — we didn’t. I think today just kind of the same thing. We did some good things, some bad things, but the break’s going to feel really good to relax a little bit.”
Artemi Panarin scored Columbus’ lone goal, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 shots.
Off to their second-best start in franchise history, the Blue Jackets entered the game 14-3-1 when coming off a loss this season.
But they couldn’t muster much offense against a Wild team that was 1-3-0 after the loss to Anaheim, and scrapping to stay in the Western Conference playoff race.
“I don’t know where the standings are going to shake out, but we’re still right there in the mix regardless of how dark it’s been at times the last little while, we’re still right there,” Parise said.
Minnesota outshot Columbus 31-20, including 15-6 in the second period.
“We wasted a great effort by Bob,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said of his goalie. “It’s mind-boggling what we do when we get near that net and how many pucks we shoot wide or over handle.”
Minnesota scored first for only the 18th time in 48 games when Greenway took a pretty pass from Eric Staal at 16:07 of the first, and fired a sharp one-timer from the left circle past Bobrovsky. Eighty-nine seconds later, Parise made it 2-0 when Pontus Aberg tried to clear the puck from behind the net. His attempt appeared to hit off a defender’s skate and went right to Parise, who scored from the slot.
Panarin scored on a wrister from the left circle at 3:07 of the second period. Dubnyk was screened by Nick Foligno on the shot.
NOTES: : Newcomers Aberg and Victor Rask assisted on Parise’s goal, their first points with the Wild since being traded earlier in the week from Anaheim and Carolina, respectively. . Columbus had only six shots in the third period. … Parise has scored 20 goals in nine of 14 NHL seasons. . The Wild improved to 13-2-1 when leading after two. . Rask’s introduction to the home crowd was a bit anticlimactic. He served a two-minute penalty when Minnesota was whistled for too many men on the ice at 2:20 of the first period.
Blue Jackets: Off for the All-Star break, then hosting Buffalo on Jan. 29.
Wild: At Vegas on Monday.
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