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Wild Finding A Way, And By Different Paths

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

As Minnesota Wild interim Head Coach John Torchetti stood behind the bench on Saturday for three-on-three overtime, it was far from his first rodeo.

Six-skater extra sessions are new in the NHL, but were experimented on in the American Hockey League last season before being adopted by big brother.

But what was new, or at least newer, was the Wild getting past regulation and winning. When Minnesota defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a shootout at First Niagara Center, it was the second time in 12 games the Wild has played past 60 minutes, and earned two points.

"You're starting to see different trends get broken," Torchetti said. "That's all good signs."

Now 8-3-0 under its new bench boss, the Wild has seen tangible changes under Torchetti, but the most important have been reflected in the standings.

And perhaps no one is enjoying that metamorphosis more than Torchetti himself.

"Honestly I had a blast," he said after the Wild won on Saturday. "It was fun."

Torchetti's energy is infectious, and has certainly been caught by his players. Coaching his first NHL three-on-three overtime game, against the Sabres, he called out three names at a time, which " … was fun," and the Wild didn't lose in an overtime period for the fourth time in 12 tries (one OT win, one shootout win, and two shootout losses).

Then in the breakaway competition, not an artifact by NHL standards, by a wilting exercise that isn't getting its sunlight because of the three-on-three, Torchetti turned to his left and charged Assistant Coach Andrew Brunette with configuring a batting order.

"We talk about it, but I usually let my assistants (pick)," Torchetti said. "They know the guys better.

"Bruno did a good job picking [Pominville] in the end, so it was a good comeback win," Torchetti said.

So forge ahead the Wild and its new signal caller, learning from each other, pooling its talents and resources in an attempt to find the right recipe to a postseason pastry.

"There's different ways, and we found a way tonight," Jason Pominville said after foiling his former team with a fourth round shootout-winner. "We need points right now, and we have to start climbing, and making a push, and it was nice to get rewarded."

Finding a way, as the cliché goes, was something Minnesota struggled with as recently as a few weeks ago. But over a current four-game winning streak, the Wild has started the third period either tied or trailing by a goal, and subsequently walked away with eight total points.

Saturday marked the second time the Wild has won this season when entering the third period trailing. The other came in game number one on the schedule, a dramatic three-goal, third period comeback against the Colorado Avalanche.

The three other games the Wild won when tied after two represents a third of nine such wins it owns in those situations this season.

"There's been a lot of times this year that we all talked about being in these situations, and not really getting it done," Devan Dubnyk said. "That's usually what we're really good at, and so it's nice obviously, and that's what we need this time of the year.

"It's important to start to get those confident feelings going into tie games, or one goal down in the third, and having the confidence that we're going to come back and win if we stick to what we're doing."

And those new feelings, and those new results, are ones that are good for the Wild.

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