SAN JOSE – In a league with so much parity, where it seems like every result from December on has major playoff implications, the reality that is the three-point game comes into play.
When tied midway through the third period or later, getting to overtime and securing at least a point can go a long way in building one's playoff resume.
But in two of the past three games, the Wild has given up a game-winning goal with under seven minutes remaining in regulation.
It's a trend the Wild hopes to buck rather quickly.
"A playoff team, a good team, you have to lock those games down and get points when you can," Jarret Stoll said. "It's hard enough to get points and get wins in this league. That's not good enough."
It started on Wednesday at Honda Center when the Wild entered the third period against the Anaheim Ducks tied 1-1.
But with 6:19 left in the third period, Rickard Rakell broke that tie, slipping free in front of the net and finishing a chance off the rush.
"That's not typical of us, too," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "We have to find ways at those times. We know what we're capable of, and we know that good teams do that, and what they do in those circumstances, so we have to be better there."
Against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, the tie evaporated even later in the third. After tying the game 3-3 with 7:50 to go in regulation, Joe Pavelski scored off an offensive zone faceoff with 84 seconds separating the Wild and at least a point.
"Again, it's kind of the Anaheim story," Stoll said. "We have a tie game late in the third on the road, and you want to at least get a point, and somehow try to get that extra one in overtime or in a shootout. We have to lock those games down."
What made Saturday even tougher for the Wild to swallow was that it had battled back twice in that game. Stoll tied the game in the third period, but the Wild had also battled back after falling behind 1-0.
"You're going to have to do that as the season wears on," Yeo said. "You can't just win the games that you're leading. You have to find different ways, and we climbed back, and that's the disappointing thing. Obviously it wasn't enough."