Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 3-2 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes at Xcel Energy Center.
Interim Head Coach John Torchetti asked the Wild to look at the forest, and not the trees.
It’s difficult to have everything go your way every second of a 60-minute game. But it's how you treat those moments, not letting them cloud an otherwise solid effort that is important.
The Wild dealt with adversity in moments on Saturday in a game it played better than its opponent. It surrendered a late game-tying goal in the third period, and then had a crossroads to face.
"It's always a tough situation," Charlie Coyle said. "We're in the lead, we want the game, we want the two points, but it's anyone's game at that point.
"It's a tough goal to give up, but every stayed with it, everyone was calm on the bench, our mindset was just to get those two points, whatever it takes, and just to stay positive."
And facing a team that it's not chasing in the standings, the Wild regrouped, and earned a big two points with a shootout victory.
"We had the game going our way, and then to give up a goal with three minutes left, it was a tough play," Torchetti said. "We made a bad read there, and we recovered. Guys said all the right things in the locker room. Those are all the words you want to hear moving forward with the good team leadership that we have, and we need more of it, like we always talk about."
Chasing the Avalanche for the second wild card spot into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, consolation points are nice, but that's what they are: consolation points.
"This time of the year, going into the shootout, you work and compete your best and hopefully you get the extra point," Devan Dubnyk said. "But going into a shootout right now, getting one point is not good enough for us."
As the Wild has shuffled its lines since Torchetti took over, one constant has remained: Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula, and someone.
It was Jason Pominville's spot, until he sustained a lower-body injury. But Niederreiter and Haula have avoided moving lines because, whomever has been on the opposite wing has, as the line has gone, been effective.
On Saturday, forward David Jones was the latest to reap its benefits, and in doing so scored his second goal for the Wild.
"They were buzzing before I got here, and I don't think it really matters who's on that side," Jones said. "They're both real effective, especially Nino, at protecting the puck, and [Haula] is great down the middle."
Jones' goal came on a shift that has looked like so many the Wild's third line has taken the past month or so.
Haula made a good defensive read in the neutral zone to intercept a pass, and everything got going from there. He gained the zone and took a shot that created a rebound, and the Wild was all over the puck. Eventually, Niederreiter made a play from the circle, Haula took another shot, and Jones, parked in front, was able to flip a rebound over Cam Ward.
"Those guys are both really effective players," Jones said. "It seemed pretty seamless, all three of us have some good speed, we fed off each other well, and we had some good chances.
"We maybe could have had more than one."
Overall, it was one of Jones' most effective efforts since being acquired by the Wild at the trade deadline. Perhaps not coincidentally, it came while playing with two of the Wild's most effective forwards over that span.
"[Jones] deserved that spot, and he might go up another line tomorrow," Torchetti said. "[Jones] has come in and done a fantastic job. A good pickup for us at the deadline."
In his second game back after being a healthy scratch for two consecutive, forward Jason Zucker really used his speed to influence the game.
He parlayed that skating ability into a big goal.
When Zucker is effective, he's moving his feet, either getting in on the forecheck, or getting possession on the flanks and taking advantage of vertical space to build up a head of steam.
He made little plays to disrupt Carolina in its defensive zone, either closing on puck-carriers and giving them less time than they expected, or getting into a passing lane, making it more difficult for the Hurricanes to exit the zone.
With the game tied 1-1 in the third, Zucker hustled to the front of the net, and as the puck ping-ponged off Ward out front, onto Zucker's stick, he had a wide-open net to shoot on.
"Absolutely, it’s always nice to get a goal," Zucker said. "But more than that, it was nice to help the team get a win tonight, in any way. Whether that’s shots on net, blocking shots or getting a goal, it was nice to help us get that win. It was two very-needed points.”
In the second period, he drew a penalty when he blew past defenseman Ron Hainsey, forcing a hold as he attacked the crease.
Those are simple things Zucker can do that don't require him to be either on top of his game or doing anything fancy.
There's no stats kept on how many loose pucks teams retrieve, but it's safe to say the Wild was more effective on Saturday than it was on Thursday.
Battle level was something Torchetti has talked about a lot since the Wild's 7-4 loss against the New Jersey Devils, saying the Wild needed a lot more of it.
"We were more aggressive," Coyle said. "We stayed within our structure. That’s what’s going to get us scoring chances. We stick with it and give a little more each time, create some momentum and I think it’s going to pay off in our favor.”
Maybe it was the home crowd, maybe it was the afternoon start, or maybe the Wild took its coach's comments to heart, but Minnesota had a lot more jump to its game in many regards against Carolina.
"Effort" is an ambiguous concept to define in hockey, but the Wild looked much faster on Saturday, a good sign for a team that pace and success generally go hand-in-hand.
The Wild spent far less time with the puck in the neutral zone because of how quickly it was able to get north, and then used that puck possession to generate shots on goal and offensive zone time.
The coach and the players all said the Wild needed to battle harder, and on Saturday, they did.
"We were just committed to the right side of the puck, and just committed to win every battle, and just make the right decisions, and good puck placement," Torchetti said. "We did a really good job, and it was a good response."
The State of Hockey is a family that extends far past the Minnesota Wild, and far past the state of Minnesota. When you're born in Minnesota, or become a resident, or self-identify with Minnesota, you become part of the State of Hockey family.
Matt Olson, an Isanti, Minn. native, was playing junior hockey for the Chicago Cougars last month when he sustained a severe spinal cord injury last month, paralyzing him.
So to help the Olson family, the Wild, partnered with the Chicago Blackhawks, and broadcast partners Fox Sports North, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, WGN-TV, FM 1003.3 KFAN and WGN Radio. They are joining together to raise money through an auction, which begins on Sunday. The auction runs through Wednesday, March 30.
That will come a day after the Wild hosts the Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center, on a night that will be dedicated to Matt, with both teams wearing stickers on their helmets in support of Matt, and significant fundraisers being held throughout the arena.
Matt Olson is part of the State of Hockey, and transitively part of the Wild's family. Now it's up to all of its residents to help out a family member in a time of need.
More information about the auction can be found here.