DENVER — Considering how neck-and-neck the three-team race atop the Central Division is, the Wild might need all 82 games in the regular season to determine their final ranking.
But they are getting a preview of some potential first-round matchups, and their next opportunity to leave one last impression is Wednesday at Colorado.
"We want to show that we're a hard team to play against, and it's not just against these teams," Joel Eriksson Ek said. "We want to keep building our game and have a good feeling going into the playoffs."
Already this week the Wild have dispatched another possible opponent in the postseason, dismissing Seattle 5-1 on Monday to nab that season series 2-1.
Despite a lopsided finish, the Wild had a shaky beginning and were outshot by more than a 2-1 margin through two periods. What kept the Kraken from running away was goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who had 13 of his 35 saves in the first period alone.
"Marc-Andre Fleury was absolutely outstanding to give us a chance to get our legs under us," coach Dean Evason said. "They play an offensive game. They go. They push the pace. They've got four lines that can score and get scoring chances. They did.
"We didn't defend real well at the start, and Flower was there for us and then we gradually got better."
Big picture the Wild have been improving since they fell 3-2 to the Avalanche on Feb. 15.
That was a hard-fought loss by the Wild that ended up being the last straw for their post All-Star break woes: They're 15-1-4 ever since, a climb that's coincided with Matt Boldy seizing the reins of the offense in Kirill Kaprizov's injury absence.
Boldy scored his second hat trick in five games on Monday, and the winger's 12 goals in March made him just the third Wild player all-time to hit that mark in a single month; only Kaprizov (14) and Eric Staal (13) have more.
"Fun to watch," Fleury said. "He's big. He controls the puck a lot. He's got a good shot, good release. He's smart. He switches it up. He's got good moves on breakaways. He's a total player.
"Fun to watch him grow this year."
What makes Boldy's roll even more impressive is the timing.
Not only is he capitalizing while the Wild are missing Kaprizov, who's still healing up a lower-body injury that's sidelined him the past nine games, but Boldy's production is helping the team stay in the race with Colorado and Dallas for the No. 1 spot in the Central.
"Right now it's trying to get the most points and trying to get on top of our division," Fleury said. "That's the focus right now."