The Wild players weren’t sure what exactly happened.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk wanted to skate over to the bench for an update.
Defenseman Nate Prosser said players were scanning the concourse to spot a TV.
But based on the volume of the noise that erupted from the bowels of Xcel Energy Center mid-Canadian national anthem, they pieced together that it meant a successful turn of events for the Vikings.
“It was probably the loudest this building has gotten,” Prosser said. “You could feel it.”
Their hunch was confirmed just before puck drop, when the game-winning touchdown from the Vikings’ jaw-dropping 29-24 win over the Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs was splashed on the video board. That magic in Minneapolis seemed to transport itself across the Twin Cities for the outset of Sunday’s battle with the Canucks, until the Wild blew a late lead before getting upended 3-2 in overtime.
“It’s pretty disappointing having the lead with three minutes left in the game and not coming away with the win,” winger Zach Parise said. “But I guess big picture-wise, we’re slowly climbing the standings. So that’s a good thing.”
The week was a productive one for the Wild. It banked six out of a possible eight points, while extending the team’s exceptional run on home ice to 12-1-3 as the team begins a mandatory five-day break in the schedule.
“We are definitely pushing in the right direction, that’s for sure,” Prosser said. “As a team, we’re all playing together better. You can sense it on the ice and in the locker room. We are building.”
Still, the opportunity to pocket another win was there before Canucks center Brandon Sutter delivered the decisive tally 2 minutes, 50 seconds into the extra period.
It was 1-1 in the third period when Wild winger Daniel Winnik slung an Eric Staal pass under Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom’s glove at 12:14. But with just 3:12 remaining in the third, the Canucks got the equalizer on a deflection by Thomas Vanek.
“It felt like tonight was a little bit more of a 50-50 game than we wanted,” Prosser said. “Credit to them. They brought it. We just fell a little short there.”
The frenzied finish was reminiscent of the start, as the building was buzzing on the heels of the Vikings’ triumph.
And that energy seemed to lift the Wild early.
Just 4:59 into the first period, the team capitalized on the power play off a slick passing sequence between winger Mikael Granlund and captain Mikko Koivu that set up winger Jason Zucker in the slot for a one-timer past Markstrom. That was the Wild’s only power play in the game.
As the period progressed, the Wild’s momentum began to fizzle and the period ended tied after winger Loui Eriksson’s one-timer up the middle squeaked through Dubnyk’s pad at 16:57.
The second period was mostly even, previewing the back-and-forth battle that ensued until Sutter’s winner.
“It was kind of an up-and-down game,” Zucker said. “We carried the pace, and then they’d kind of take it.”
A missed opportunity, to be sure, but an encouraging stretch recently for the Wild keeps the possibility of its own playoff payoff alive.
“You knew somehow the Vikings won,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You didn’t know how. I think we came out and there was 25 seconds left and they were getting a penalty. But that’s why you never quit, and that’s why sports is being played. These miracles happen in every sport almost every year.”