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Result not ideal Tuesday, but Wild's road trip was a winner

Six out of eight points against Eastern Conference foes has Wild primed to make some noise during season's second half

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

BOSTON -- The Wild's four-game road trip ended with a thud on Tuesday in a 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins and TD Garden. 

In the immediate aftermath of the game, players will struggle to come up with positives. Coaches will reflect on the bad game to end the trip.

"It's always tough to think about that immediately after the game, obviously we're disappointed with the result tonight," said Wild forward Eric Staal. "But we did have some good wins and some good hockey and we've gotta take that with us when we go home."

The bottom line is, Minnesota's four game trip -- in which it captured six of a possible eight points -- has the potential to be a turning point over the second half of the season. 

And to think, the trip couldn't have started much worse. Just seven seconds into it, the Wild was losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

It overcame a two-goal deficit against one of the League's best teams in one of the League's toughest barns to earn two points.

It overcame a lumbering first period in Ottawa thanks to Devan Dubnyk, who limited the damage inflicted by the Senators in a Saturday matinee to just one goal, long enough for the Wild to come alive in the second and third periods to rally for a win.

It overcame an injury to one of its top penalty killers and a short-handed defensive core that was without one of its players for 17 minutes because he stood up for that injured teammate. Again it was Dubnyk, playing a starring role, earning his first shutout of the season and 30th of his NHL career.

"We beat three good teams on this trip," said Wild goaltender Alex Stalock, who made 23 saves in his first start in more than a month. "You look at it before, it wasn't an easy trip. You've got a back-to-back to end it. To get three of four is pretty good."

The Wild has won games a bunch of different ways on this trip, but the bottom line is, it's put itself firmly back in the postseason mix. It's put its destiny back in its own hands when it comes to making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a seventh consecutive season. 

Even after a tough loss in Boston, playing one of the League's best teams in the second of a back-to-back, the Wild flies back to Minnesota inside the playoff bubble, sitting in the second wild card spot in the West, with games in hand on the teams directly behind them.

"If you look, big picture, six out of eight this trip I think before the trip, we'd take that," said Wild captain Mikko Koivu. "But obviously there's frustration after tonight's game."

While the last thing people will remember about the trip won't be the most pleasant, don't lose sight of the big picture. All things considered: That was a pretty good road trip for the Wild.

"If we had lost the first game in Toronto and then won the last three, we'd be doing cartwheels right now," Boudreau said. "It was a successful road trip, but you always want to win every game you play." 


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