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Wild puts exclamation point on winning week

Minnesota runs home-ice winning streak to three games in rout of Kings at Xcel Energy Center

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- The Wild's "win the week" ethos has perhaps never been so important, at least since coach Bruce Boudreau brought it to Minnesota three years ago.

With the team off to a 1-6 start and coming off a pair of disappointing losses to wrap up a three-game Canadian road trip last week -- the latter of which spurred a 10-minute closed-door, players-only meeting -- Minnesota was in danger of seeing its season spiral out of control before it ever really began. 

But in the marathon that is an NHL regular season, one week can mean big change for a struggling team.

The Wild wasn't perfect in each of its four games since the end of that trip, but a three-win week, punctuated by a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, at least has the team hoping that brighter days are on the horizon.

"We don't want to look too far ahead of ourselves, if you're starting to think about the whole week ahead of you, it's not gonna end well, I don't believe that," said Wild captain Mikko Koivu. "I think you always want to win the week, in the long run that's gonna pay off."

Video: LAK@MIN: Koivu hammers home rebound to increase lead

Nine days ago, the Wild had just two points and sat dead last in the NHL standings. And while it has a long ways to go to getting back to where it wants to be, all good things have to start somewhere.

Three out of four wins, including a 3-0 mark on home ice, could be just that. 

"It definitely [stunk], but we have some goals in mind of what we want to accomplish," said Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. "Right now, we've put a nice little streak together here at home. But we need to carry that out on the road."

Whether the Wild can win another week will depend largely on accomplishing that goal. Minnesota has found relief on home ice so far this season, winning three of its four games at Xcel Energy Center.

Video: LAK@MIN: Staal snipes one past Quick

Unfortunately for the Wild, games at home have been few and far between. After its win Saturday, the Wild begins another stretch of games on the road beginning on Tuesday when it faces the Dallas Stars in Texas, followed by the second of back-to-back games Wednesday, in St. Louis, against the Blues. 

One home game follows next weekend before the start of yet another four-game road trip. 

"I don't know right now. The more I looked at it, we played a really good game in Nashville [Thursday], too. Sometimes we're snake bitten a little bit," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "I thought the first three or four games we didn't have our gelling or our rhythm yet, but I think we're starting to get there a little bit. This is a team as long as I've been here that has been a good road team, so I think at some point it's going to pick up."

Tweet from @mnwild: ���For us, scoring that first goal it was a real dagger for them.��� - BoudreauHear more from Bruce Boudreau after tonight���s win against the Los Angeles!#LAKvsMIN | #mnwild

Dumba said he feels like the Wild, as a whole, is starting to turn a bit of a corner.

"You can feel it, you can see it first hand, just how guys are supporting the puck," Dumba said. "Guys are a little more poised, we're making plays out there."

Overall, Minnesota will play 20 of its first 30 games on the road through Dec. 7. The feeling inside the dressing room is that if the club can start to bring some of that home success on the road, it could make a nice run during the home-heavy second half of the season.

Video: LAK@MIN: Dumba's shot goes in off Mayhew in front

And while simply treading water on the road doesn't seem like a lofty goal, surviving a 1-6 start to the season by winning a couple weeks in a row would be a real accomplishment, especially with so much season left to be played.

"If after 18 we can be 9-9, or better, that would be a real feather in our cap I think," Boudreau said. 

That goal seems reasonable enough, although it won't be easy. 

Minnesota has won just once in its first seven away from home, and with a pair of playoff teams from last season looming on the schedule this week, earning points will be a challenge.

Video: Locker room postgame vs LA Kings

But if the Wild can manage to do that, it would have the ability to essentially hit the reset button on its season as the calendar flips to November. 

Coming from where it started, that's not nothing.

"[We need to] just slowly chip away at it," said Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon. "We dug ourselves a hole, but if you're able to win every week and win a majority of your games, it's slowly gonna come. It's not gonna happen in a week, but if we keep doing this, we'll get ourselves back in the position we want to be."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 5, Kings 1

Video: Stalock, Wild take down Kings

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