There are nine games left in the Minnesota Wild's schedule and the team is making one last attempt at a playoff berth (despite slim odds). However, what happened during their Saturday clash against the Vegas Golden Knights may just hurt the team's chances to reach an elusive Wild Card spot. Toward the end of the game, Wild right winger Ryan Hartman threw his stick from the bench in the direction of the officials. Hartman felt that he was high-sticked by one of the Golden Knights players late in the third, something that the referees didn't call.

Now, the NHL has given a sanction and the Wild won't be having Hartman on the ice for a bit. According to the official NHL Player Safety X (Twitter) account, Hartman has been given a three-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Ryan Hartman loses his cool

Minnesota Wild right wing Ryan Hartman (38) celebrates his goal against the Arizona Coyotes in the second period at Xcel Energy Center
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It all started at the 3:30 mark of overtime. Hartman was assessed a 10-minute misconduct because of abusive language (presumably due to the missed high-stick call). After Vegas winger Jonathan Marchessault scored an empty-net goal to put the game away, Hartman began walking back to the tunnel. The 29-year-old then decided that he wasn't done venting his frustrations. Returning to the bench, Hartman suddenly threw his stick toward the middle of the ice, where the officials were skating at that time. (clip via Hockey insider Frank Seravalli).

While the stick didn't make contact with anyone, an NHL Player Safety video report emphasized the dangers of throwing sticks toward unsuspecting players and officials. Hartman himself said that he didn't intend to hurt or harm anyone with the stick. Nevertheless, the forward acknowledged that his actions were unprofessional.

Additionally, the report also stated that Hartman's past offenses were taken into account in relation to the suspension. The Wild winger has previously been suspended three times and fined seven times throughout his career.

Can Hartman and the Minnesota Wild somehow make the playoffs?

Minnesota Wild right wing Ryan Hartman (38) celebrates his empty net goal against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at Xcel Energy Center
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Wild have been using Ryan Hartman in their second line as of late, so losing a top-six piece would definitely be a concern for Minnesota. This season, Hartman has tallied 19 goals and  23 assists to put up 42 points for the Wild. In Minnesota's last 17 games, the winger managed 14 points. He finished Saturday's outing with three shots in 17 minutes and 31 seconds of playing time.

The team is 10th in the West with a 35-28-10 record and 79 points. Following their loss to the Golden Knights, Minnesota is eight points away from securing the last Wild Card spot, which is currently held by the Los Angeles Kings (87 points). Moving forward, the Wild have no more room for losses in their remaining games. They'll also have to wish that others vying for that last WC spot don't perform well. In between the Wild and the Kings are the St. Louis Blues with 84 points.

Minnesota can only hope that all the stars align so that their postseason dreams become a reality.