Ducks Can Clinch Playoff Spot by Beating Wild & With Some Help

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, April 3, 2018 4:04 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 3, 2018 4:04 PM UTC

Big game Wednesday night (10 ET) from Anaheim for the Ducks as they host the Minnesota Wild. Both teams are dealing with key injuries.

Minnesota (98 points) at Anaheim (95 points)Free NHL Pick: DucksBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Just three games on the final Wednesday of the 2017-18 regular season – the playoffs start in exactly a week – with easily the most important one being Minnesota visiting Anaheim.

The season series between the Western Conference foes is tied 1-1. On Dec. 8, the Wild won in Anaheim 3-2 in overtime. Defenseman Matt Dumba beat John Gibson at 3:43 of the extra period and was named the No. 1 star. Devan Dubnyk stopped 26 shots for Minnesota.

On Feb. 17 in the Twin Cities, the Ducks won 3-2 in a shootout. It took until the 11th round of the shootout for things to be decided, when Nick Ritchie beat Dubnyk through the five hole. Prior to that goal, the teams combined for 13 straight misses. Gibson had 36 saves and Dubnyk 28.

Minnesota is 18-10-3 all-time in Anaheim.

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Major Injury Worries On Both Sides

Entering Tuesday’s action, the Ducks are the top wild-card team in the West, one point behind L.A. for third in the Pacific and only three ahead of St. Louis, the first team on the outside looking in. The Wild are third in the Central and have clinched a playoff spot – they likely will stay put regardless of what happens in the final few games.

There are injuries on each side that won’t help matters in the postseason, assuming Anaheim makes it. Top Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter suffered a fractured ankle in Saturday night’s loss in Dallas. That’s crushing. Since signing a monster 13-year, $98 million contract with the Wild in 2012, Suter had missed only five total games. His streak of 242 in a row ended Monday night in Minnesota’s home finale, a 3-0 win over Edmonton. Zach Parise scored twice, extending his streak to seven straight games with at least a point. That victory and L.A.’s win later Monday over Colorado clinched the Wild’s spot in the postseason.

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Brodin, Parise, Soucy & Dubnyk on #mnwild stepping up as a team without Suter and Spurgeon on defense. #EDMvsMIN pic.twitter.com/pQSzhLKmUk

— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) April 3, 2018
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Suter has six goals and 45 assists and was playing an average of 26:47 per night, second in the NHL to Kings defenseman Drew Doughty’s 26:48. Minnesota has been without Suter’s usual partner, Jared Spurgeon, since mid-March with a partial tear of his hamstring. He did resume skating on Monday but surely won’t return before the postseason.

The Ducks, meanwhile, have lost their No. 1 netminder in Gibson, although it’s not yet clear for how long or for what exactly (reportedly in the concussion protocol). He was forced from Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win against Colorado after teammate Ryan Kesler cross-checked Gabriel Landeskog into his own goaltender.

Gibson has been sidelined by injury on three different occasions this year and is 31-18-7 with a 2.43 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage. He was the league’s No. 3 star for March, going 9-3-1 with a 2.15 GAA,.931 save percentage with three shutouts in 13 appearances. Backup Ryan Miller is solid but not as good. In addition, top defenseman Cam Fowler sustained an undisclosed injury in Sunday night's game. No word yet on his status. He has 32 points in 67 games and plays nearly 25 minutes per game, most on the team.

Anaheim would clinch a playoff spot with a win and a St. Louis home loss earlier Wednesday vs. Chicago. The Wild, meanwhile, really have little to play for now and could rest some guys, so take the Ducks on a Wednesday NHL pick even presuming without Gibson and Fowler.

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