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 3-0 loss against the San Jose at Xcel Energy Center.
And now the fun begins.
No, the Wild is not happy with the current state of its game, in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
But the Wild's perspective is a bit broader. It includes knowing that it has gone 15-10-1 over its past 26 games to put itself in a position where, while it did not want to clinch a playoff berth because of out-of-town results, it was able to clinch a playoff berth, period.
"We’re in the playoffs," Mikko Koivu said. "You earn every single point and every single team that’s in the playoffs, and we’re there, so we can talk about it like we won six in a row. That’s probably what brought us there."
The Wild has many components of its game that it wants to clean up, and will have a final warmup Saturday, its regular-season finale against the Calgary Flames, to do so.
"We’ve got a lot of work that we need to do," Devan Dubnyk said. "There’s just some areas of our play that aren’t good. That’s inexcusable in game 81, when we’re trying to prepare for the playoffs. You can’t play the last four games the way we have. That’s just, right now that’s not good."
But the good news for the Wild, which it would not overlook in the postgame, is it is now back in the postseason.
"I don't know how many weeks I've been here, but if I told everyone we were going to make the playoffs, everybody would be pretty excited about that moving forward," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "Not the way you want to go in it, but they did a hell of a job."
In identifying what the Wild needs to do better, Torchetti cited playing faster, with more energy, and re-establish its forecheck.
But here sits the Wild, one of seven teams to have reached the postseason each of the past four seasons. There's plenty of work to do, and no feeling of satisfaction in the midst of this losing streak, but one of optimism that the Wild can get back to playing the kind of hockey that afforded it the cushion that buoyed its playoff hopes.
"Your goal during the season is to get into the playoffs and we’re in the playoffs," Ryan Suter said. "Now, our goal is to win the Stanley Cup. We have to prepare to be ready to try and accomplish that.”
All the things defenseman Jared Spurgeon was lauded for over the past few days, and the things the Wild really missed from its top-pairing defenseman the past two games, were back on the ice Tuesday night.
Spurgeon returned from a lower-body injury, and gave the Wild a big boost in the defensive zone. What Spurgeon does so efficiently is go back on pucks, make a quick read, and put the Wild in position to get a clean zone exit.
And as Torchetti likes to reference so often, Spurgeon also plays a lot bigger than his size. He's adept at skating into a puck-carrier, putting himself in body position, and gaining possession.
The Wild likes to play at a higher pace, and exiting the zone crisply is a very important first step to that process. It's one of Spurgeon's strengths, and something he brought back to the Wild lineup on Tuesday.
For the third consecutive game, the Wild allowed a power-play goal, and has now conceded four in its past 180 minutes of hockey.
Recall that, before this stretch, the Wild allowed three power play goals over a 15-game stretch.
So the PK, something the Wild was leaning on at times over those 15 games, has not had the same success of late. The Sharks power-play goal on Tuesday came on a sequence that featured Dubnyk going post-to-post to rob Patrick Marleau.
But the Wild was unable to clear a rebound, and a Logan Couture shot wide of the net ricocheted off the end-boards, onto the waiting stick of Marleau, who didn't miss this time and put San Jose up 2-0.
"We have to have better clearing attempts," Torchetti said. "Giving up two goals out of the four in the last three games are clearing attempts that we have to do a better job on."
Not inconsequential in a game the Wild was chasing and looking for a momentum swing was Minnesota's power play, which went 0-for-3.
The first two Wild power plays did not record a shot. They very much looked choreographed, as the Sharks were able to funnel possession along the outside, chasing the puck until the Wild paused enough to make a defensive play.
By the Wild's third power play, facing a two-goal deficit, the urgency was there, and it was a simplistic, get-the-puck-to-the-net kind of look.
Minnesota though lost the special teams battle, conceding a power play goal, and going fruitless on its own man-advantage opportunities. Over this four-game losing streak, the Wild is a net minus-3 on special teams goals.
Zac Dalpe last put on a Minnesota Wild sweater Oct. 1. It was the Wild's preseason finale, Dalpe's second regular-season tune-up, and he scored, registered three shots on goal, and two hits.
Dalpe looked like the kind of player who, despite getting assigned to Iowa and the American Hockey League, could be an option for the Wild. With 117 NHL games on his professional resume, Dalpe was a logical potential call-up.
But a torn labrum in his hip required surgery after one AHL game, and then a knee injury in February put Dalpe back on the mend.
On Tuesday, he made his Wild debut, a testament to how hard Dalpe has worked this season to just get back on the ice.
And he was effective for the Wild in his 9:39 of playing time. He registered two shots on goal, and played physically, separating Sharks players from the puck, and gaining back possession for Minnesota.