ST. PAUL -- With nine games left in the regular season, the Wild is one point out of a playoff spot.
That's the bad news.
The good news is the Wild has found the pace and the game it must play if it wants to reach the postseason for a seventh consecutive season. It was a recipe unveiled in Tampa, copied Saturday night against the New York Rangers and duplicated once again Sunday versus the New York Islanders.
Minnesota has proven it can play that game. But can it play it nine times in a row? That's what will likely determine whether the Wild is one of the eight Western Conference teams with a chance to bring home Lord Stanley's chalice.
Video: NYI@MIN: Stalock, Spurgeon combine for pair of stops
"The way that we played the last two games ... we have a good team when we work hard," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "This team gets rewarded when we do work hard because we don't have that pure goal scorer. It's about work ethic and when we show up and work hard good things usually happen."
The Wild brought its lunch pails and hard hats to Xcel Energy Center on Sunday. Playing on the second half of back-to-backs, it was Minnesota that had boundless energy for more than 60 minutes of play.
First on seemingly every loose puck, the Wild outshot the islanders 34-20, out-attempted them 69-34 and drew six power plays, scoring on two of them.
"The last two games we've been way more aggressive," said Wild forward Zach Parise. "Before, sometimes I feel like we play not to lose. We play just to defend and we wait and wait and I feel like the last couple games we've been way more aggressive on the offensive side. Sometimes we give up an odd-man rush, but I think it happens. You have to take some chances and try to score some goals.
"There's a reason why we drew six power plays tonight. We're spending more time in the offensive zone. It has to do with being more aggressive. When we don't, we're getting one power play a game - two maybe. So the aggressiveness I think it just leads to more offensive chances."
Video: NYI@MIN: Spurgeon slams home loose puck for PPG
Normally, that'd be a solid recipe for a victory, but New York, perhaps the best team in the League at clogging things up in the defensive zone, blocked 22 shots and survived a masterful second period by the Wild.
Minnesota outshot New York 16-3 in the middle frame, but the Islanders capitalized on a power-play goal by Anders Lee that deflected off three bodies in front. The Wild also scored once, but had one taken away because of goaltender interference, which forced Minnesota to play catchup in the third period.
The fact the Wild did not come out of the second at least even, but not a goal or two ahead, ended up telling the final story.
The Wild did just that on Jared Spurgeon's power play goal with under 13 minutes remaining in regulation, but it was Brock Nelson who delivered the knockout punch 1:04 into overtime, delivering the extra point for the Islanders.
Video: NYI@MIN: Parise pots tremendous between-the-legs PPG
"The lost point hurts. I guess it's that time of the year where you gotta get them. But at the same time, that just feels probably as well as we've played in a while," Parise said. "So you go through the game I don't think there's too many things that we did poorly or we need to do differently. Just they got that one in overtime. Unfortunately, the standings, there's just not that breathing room where we need to get those."
Minnesota moved to within one point of idle Arizona for the second wild card spot in the west. A matchup with the Coyotes looms in the desert in a couple weeks, but before then, the Wild needs to find a way to keep playing the game that it played this weekend.
Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame vs. NY Islanders
It was energetic, it was fast, it was aggressive, it was entertaining.
But most importantly, it was successful.
"We played good. We played like we cared. We played like we wanted to win," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "The crowd was great. The only thing is we didn't get the extra point."
Postgame Hat Trick: Islanders 3, Wild 2 (OT)
Video: MIN Recap: Parise, Spurgeon score for Wild in loss