Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 5-4 overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Sunday night:
1. Minnesota needed extra time, but got the job done.
There's no such thing as a must-win game until they really are must-win games, but this was about as close to one as the Wild has had in a while.
On the heels of a disappointing loss in Los Angeles on Saturday, Minnesota needed the two points to complete a winning road trip against the three teams that reside at the bottom of the Western Conference. This trip is hard no matter what the records are, but this time of year, that's simply the reality.
After a sloppy second period yielded a 3-2 Ducks lead headed to the third period, Minnesota scored twice in the final 20 to secure a much-needed two points.
The comeback was fueled by a couple of unlikely heroes, as Victor Rask, playing for the first time in seven games, tied the game with a pretty individual effort at 1:49 of the third. Then, with just over five minutes remaining, Alex Galchenyuk scored his second large goal of the roadie, wiring a turnover past Ryan Miller from the hashes.
Video: MIN@ANA: Rask rifles unassisted goal in from the slot
Anaheim tied the game with an extra attacker late, but Kevin Fiala scored a power-play goal late in overtime to deliver a huge second point.
Video: MIN@ANA: Fiala scores PPG in OT
2. Mats Zuccarello snapped a lengthy goal drought.
After Jakob Silfverberg opened the scoring 11:18 into the game, Zuccarello answered back less than a minute later, tallying his 15th goal of the season and first since Feb. 1, a span of 17 games without a goal.
Video: MIN@ANA: Zuccarello answers with transition goal
The timing couldn't have been any better.
The Wild had an energetic start to the game, much more so than Saturday in Los Angeles, but fell behind when Silfverberg rifled a shot past Dubnyk from the slot.
Instead of dwelling on it, the Wild got it right back when Zuccarello and Alex Galchenyuk entered the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 rush. Galchenyuk fed Zuccarello and bolted for the front of the net. Zuccarello tried to feed it back, but it hit the defenseman's skate and came right back to him. Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller was out of position and Zuccarello scored into a yawning cage to even the match.
Just 91 seconds later, Fiala gave the Wild the lead on a ridiculous snap shot that whistled inches wide of Miller's facemask and under the crossbar for his 22nd goal. His overtime winner tied his career high in that category.
Video: MIN@ANA: Fiala roofs wrist shot for PPG from circle
3. The Wild jumped back inside the Western Conference's top-8.
After doing so for the first time in three months following Thursday's win in San Jose, Minnesota fell back out with games on Friday and Saturday.
But the Wild used its games-in-hand advantage to its benefit on Sunday, securing two points to move back atop the wild card standings (pending a final result in Vancouver).
As it sat at the moment the clock hit 0 at the Honda Center, the Wild's 77 points through 69 games was one better than three teams, the Vancouver Canucks, the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets, and three clear of the Arizona Coyotes.
Two problems now for the Wild: 1) its games in hand advantage is gone. Nashville and Vancouver each have a game in hand while Winnipeg and Arizona each have played the same number of games. And 2) it won't play again until Thursday when it hosts the Vegas Golden Knights at Xcel Energy Center.
During that stretch, Minnesota will hope for some assistance, and plenty of two-point games so that it has a chance to continue its ascent up the standings.