The Minnesota Wild’s first regular-season trip to Denver this year couldn’t be much bigger.
Minnesota holds a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Central Division with just over two weeks left on the schedule.
And both teams enter Wednesday night on a tear.
Minnesota moved into first place with a 15-1-4 run since Feb. 17 and has a NHL-leading 34 points in that span.
The Avalanche have won 10 of their past 12 game.
That sets the tone for the showdown which will be the late game on TNT.
True, the Avs have got the better of matchup so far this year. Colorado won both games at the Xcel Energy Center by the scores of 6-3 and 3-2. But, if there is one thing the Wild have proved in their history is the ability to win big games in Denver.
Twice the Wild have won a Game 7 in a first-round playoff series on the Avs home ice, in 2003 and ’14.
Does that matter now? No. But it is fun to reminisce.
It also has been fun to watch Matt Boldy.
The Wild forward recorded a hat trick against Seattle on Monday, his second of the month and third of his career. He also has 12 goals and 17 points in his last dozen games.
He also put himself in some select company for his age.
“”He’s shooting it hard. Right?,” Wild coach Dean Evason said during a post-game media session on Monday. “Looks like he’s trying to throw it through the net, which is great. He has such a gifted shot and when he shoots it like he does, obviously he’s able to score.
“He’s always had a great shot but he’s been working at continually shooting every puck like that,” Evason said. “And obviously (Boldy’s line) has given us a lot.”
In addition, the Wild haven’t given up a lot lately.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 of 36 shots on Monday as the Wild held a team to a goal or less for the 27th time this season. Only Boston has been better this year.
Yes, the Wild have been fun to watch to this point.
It’s led to games like Wednesday and weeks like this.
The Wild will quickly have to turn their attention to a home-and-home series with Vegas on Saturday and Monday.
It’s still the regular season, but it feels like the playoffs have already started.
Or, just call it must-watch TV.