The team that's given the Wild the most trouble this season is almost in the rearview mirror.
After taking on the Avalanche an eighth time Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild gets to concentrate on the rest of the West Division and revisit the opponents it's pried the bulk of its points from this season.
But before moving on, the Wild can get the last word against Colorado to prove this matchup isn't as one-sided as the results suggest — a message that could resonate if these teams reunite in the playoffs.
"[Wednesday] is definitely a chance to show we can play against them," Marcus Johansson said. "We haven't done that lately. [Monday] wasn't good enough. I think we kind of fell into their game too much. We need to go out and play our game for 60 minutes.
"I'm certain we're going to do that."
Of the 12 games the Wild has dropped in regulation, five have been losses to the Avalanche.
Most recently was the too-little, too-late comeback that ended 5-4 Monday night to snap the Wild's franchise-record 11-game win streak at home. Before that were back-to-back blowouts in Colorado, a low point of the Wild's season.
Still, the Avalanche hasn't been invincible.
One of the Wild's signature wins was Jan. 31 when the team rallied past Colorado 4-3 in overtime despite missing key regulars and finishing off two games in two nights.
Then there was the 6-2 rout on Feb. 24, an authoritative performance that was especially impressive considering the Wild was on the road in Denver.
"We limited our turnovers," coach Dean Evason said. "We got pucks deep. We forechecked. We finished our checks. We did all the right things that hockey teams do to have success."
Rediscovering that aggressive style is how the Wild believes it needs to respond after an incomplete effort on Monday in which the team established an early lead only to get steamrollered in the second period and then run out of time while playing catch-up in the third.
Zach Parise is expected to be back for the rematch after going into the NHL's COVID protocols on March 24 and sitting out the ensuing seven games, but it's unclear if Mats Zuccarello will be ready to return from a lower-body injury that's kept him out since Saturday.
Nick Bjugstad was also getting evaluated Tuesday; he didn't return after getting in a fight in the third period Monday to finalize his first career Gordie Howe hat trick. Bjugstad assisted on the Wild's first goal and then had a goal of his own in the third to cut the deficit to two goals.
"He obviously scored, set up a great play on the pass and then he got into a fight where the guy got the jump on him," Evason said "It happens. But what he did and how he conducted himself in that hockey game, his entire team is very proud of him."
That victory Monday extended the Avalanche's win streak to five games and league-best point streak to 15, a climb that's lifted Colorado to the top of the West Division while jostling for first overall in the NHL.
Slowing the team down won't be the Wild's problem after Wednesday, but the Avalanche could end up back on the Wild's radar if they meet in the postseason.
And the competitiveness of that potential series can still be shaped, by what happens in the regular-series finale.
"To get to the semifinals for the Cup, you're going to need to go through Vegas and Colorado," Nick Bonino said. "Those are the teams that have been good for a few years now and are powerhouses. To our credit, I think we've played with them step for step all year. As the season ends here, you're just gonna try to hit our stride and be playing the best hockey we can for these last few weeks."