GLENDALE, Ariz. – Nothing is official according to the math, but the Wild's grip on a playoff spot is getting tighter and tighter.
That's because the buffer between the team and its closest competition keeps expanding, with the latest growth spurt coming Monday at Gila River Arena after the Wild outmuscled the Coyotes 5-2 to win its fourth straight game at the outset of this week's road trip.
The third-place Wild now has a whopping 14-point cushion over No.4 Arizona and is 15 points up on No.5 St. Louis.
"It's huge," winger Marcus Foligno said. "We don't want to be a team waiting down to the last game to get in there. We want this to be a regular occurrence where we have games at-hand and we're sitting comfortable going into playoffs.
"That's the biggest thing, that attitude, that mindset, and it's a big week. We know games are dwindling down here. We're going to get some rest eventually. The goal is just to pick up momentum and keep getting the wins."
Fourth place in the West Division is very much up for grabs; the Coyotes have just a one-point lead over the No.5 Blues, and San Jose is only four back in sixth.
But the Wild is making it tough for others to catch up with how thick its cushion is. The team faces Arizona one more time, on Wednesday, and has five games left against St. Louis.
What's helped solidify the team's spot in the standings amid its recent success is the power play.
The unit delivered two more goals Monday and has 15 over the last 10 games. The team has tallied multiple power play goals in a game four times during that span.
"That's been awesome," Foligno said. "Obviously, we see it on the scoreboard. You take those two goals away it's a 3-2 game. Now we're getting that, so we're pushing away from teams on the scoreboard, which is nice."
The Wild had one other puck go in the net Monday night, a point shot from Carson Soucy in the second period, but the goal was overturned after the Coyotes challenged for goaltender interference.
Video review determined Foligno, who was set up in front as a screen, impaired Arizona goaltender Darcy Kuemper's ability to play his position.
"It was tough," Foligno said. "I don't think I'm near the paint at all. I'm trying to get to the front of the net. He's a big guy. He likes to sell. I've seen it before, that stuff. It is what it is."
That call kept the game 3-1, and the Coyotes made it 3-2 early in the third. But winger Kevin Fiala answered back 5 minutes, 5 seconds later to reinstate a two-goal lead that turned into three with a Jonas Brodin empty-net goal.
"We can't control that they called it no goal," Fiala said. "So, we have to continue, and we can't look down and that was a big goal I feel like. Good response, for sure."