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Wild move closer to clinching spot in playoffs

By Jason Bell

Sports Xchange

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Minnesota goalie Ilya Bryzgalov registered his second straight shutout as the Wild slipped out of town with a 1-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night.

Bryzgalov made 24 saves as the Wild improved to 41-26-12 to move seven points up on the Dallas Stars and all but solidify a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Russian-born goalie backstopped the Wild to a 4-0 triumph over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night. He is now 6-0-3 since being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in early March.

Minnesota center Charlie Coyle scored a power-play goal, his 12th tally of the season, early in the second period.

The Jets fell to 35-35-10.

Six years after being drafted by the Boston Bruins, Michael Hutchinson made 17 saves in his NHL debut Monday with the Jets.

Before his recent call-up, he split time this season with Ontario Reign of the ECHL and Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps, where he posted a record of 15-5-1, with a goals-against average of 2.33 and a .923 save percentage.

The first period of Hutchinson’s NHL career wasn’t exactly packed with excitement. Despite having nearly three minutes of power-play time, the Wild managed just six shots in the initial frame, and none was particularly onerous on the Jets goalie.

The game was scoreless after a hum-drum first.

Coyle fired Minnesota’s seventh shot just 1:05 into the second and beat Hutchinson through the legs, just as Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart was about to step out of the penalty box.

It was the only offensive highlight of a tedious middle period.

Playing without seven regulars, the Jets looked sloppy and, at times, disinterested. They saved their best hockey for the final 10 minutes of the game but couldn’t solve Bryzgalov.

Following the game, the Wild hopped on a plane for the 90-minute flight home to Minneapolis, where they’ll host the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night and the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

The Bruins continue north to face the Jets on Thursday at MTS Centre, Winnipeg’s final game of the 2013-14 campaign.

Since vacating Atlanta in 2011, the Jets franchise has yet to qualify for postseason play.