Wild hoping Marcus Foligno’s season will last a little longer

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The Wild aren’t giving up on getting Marcus Foligno back this season.

With 10 games to play and an eight-point deficit to overcome, the Wild need all hands on deck for an increasingly impossible, last-ditch run at an NHL playoff berth, and they’re hoping Foligno will be available for Saturday afternoon’s puck drop against Vegas at Xcel Energy Center.

Foligno has been slowed and/or sidelined by a groin injury for the better part of two months, scratched for 14 of the next 21 games, including Thursday night’s 3-1 victory over San Jose.

“It’s lingering with him,” coach John Hynes said after Thursday’s game.

Asked if the team had decided to shut Foligno down, the coach said, “Not right now, no.”

Foligno and Kirill Kaprizov were held out of a practice Friday at the X for what Hynes called maintenance, and Ryan Hartman took an optional. Hynes said Kaprizov and Hartman will play Saturday, but it was unclear whether Foligno would skate in a must-win, 2:30 p.m. puck drop against Vegas.

“I’ll probably talk to the trainers a little bit more and just see where he’s at,” Hynes said. “Obviously, with a 2:30 game, there wouldn’t be an opportunity for a (morning) skate or anything like that. I’ll probably know more (Friday) afternoon, for sure, whether he’ll go or not.”

Foligno, 32, signed a four-year contract extension during fall camp. He has played in 55 of the Wild’s 72 games so far this season and has 10 goals and 22 points with a plus/minus ratio of +10.

Certainly, the Wild need all of their best players on the ice as the season winds down, but their window to make their fourth straight postseason tournament is so small that the team could decide to just start Foligno’s offseason.

Currently 10th in the West, Minnesota earned a big two points on Thursday, but they were all but negated when ninth-place St. Louis beat Calgary and Vegas won at Winnipeg to jump Los Angeles for seventh place.

Minnesota can earn a maximum of 99 points, so even if the Wild were to win their final 10 games in regulation, they would be eliminated as soon as two of the three teams ahead of them — Vegas (88), Los Angeles (87) and St. Louis (82) — earned 100. Every Wild loss brings that finish line two points closer.

Since Jan. 25, the Wild have played 10 four-point games against close conference rivals, and gone 4-4-2 — and never once gotten higher than ninth place. So, while the Wild have played a few “biggest” games of the year already, Saturday’s game against the Golden Knights is as close to an elimination game as Minnesota has faced.

And Vegas is hot, on a five-game points streak (4-0-1). Saturday’s game will wrap up a four-game road trip for the Knights, and the teams meet again April 12th in Las Vegas. To make that game relevant, the Wild essentially have to win on Saturday.

“You’re trying to win every night, obviously. These are a little bit more important,” said winger Matt Boldy, who scored his 25th goal of the season on Thursday. “We’ve gotta get these points to push to try to get in that spot, but you can’t stress about them. I think that doesn’t end up helping, if you sit there and you’re just constantly stressing and worrying.

“It comes down to the guys in our locker room playing the right way and finding a way to win.”

Minnesota is 1-0 against the Knights so far, winning 5-3 on Feb. 12 in Las Vegas.

“Obviously, we know (Saturday will) be a game that’s highly contested,” Hynes said. “They’re a good team, they have a lot to play for, and we’re continuing to push.”

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