Missing its captain.
Down to 10 forwards.
Completing the second half of a back-to-back.
The circumstances surrounding the Wild on Tuesday night weren’t user-friendly, a daunting challenge that reminded coach Bruce Boudreau of the third game of last season, when the Wild finished with only eight forwards after three were injured in a gutsy triumph over the Blackhawks in Chicago.
“I kept thinking that we won that game,” Boudreau said. “So they were going to dig deep and win again.”
And that’s exactly what happened, as the Wild conquered the adversity to corral only its second victory of the season — shrugging off the Coyotes 2-1 in front of 18,795 at Xcel Energy Center to improve to 2-2-2.
“We have a lot of experience in this room,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “So we know how to make games like that happen.”
Center Eric Staal scored the deciding goal in the third period, and amid a steady, 31-save showing from a fresh face in Dubnyk, who was idle the night before, the Wild persevered despite being in a tough spot.
Arizona, which hadn’t played since Saturday, was in the Twin Cities waiting for the Wild while it was upended 4-2 by the Predators on Monday in Nashville.
And the test of playing two games in as many nights didn’t get any easier once the team found out at 4 p.m. it would be without captain Mikko Koivu. He was with his wife, Helena, who was in labor to deliver the couple’s third child.
That didn’t leave enough time to fly in a reinforcement from Iowa, so the Wild inserted its lone reserve, defenseman Nate Prosser, into the lineup.
But its manpower took another hit in the first period when center Matt Hendricks left the action after getting tangled with Coyotes winger Brendan Perlini, who fell on Hendricks’ left leg — pinning it on the ice.
Hendricks attempted to skate off but ultimately fell and struggled his way to the Wild’s bench before going down the tunnel. He did not return, suffering a lower-body injury that left the Wild with only 10 forwards.
“He says he doesn’t think it’s bad,” Boudreau said. “He’s been through a lot of these.”
Based on how the first period transpired, it looked like the team could use all the help it could get.
Arizona opened the scoring on the power play when Perlini picked an open corner under the crossbar 13 minutes, 12 seconds into the first. The Coyotes blanked on their ensuring two power plays and killed off both Wild chances.
Only 3:40 into the second, winger Mikael Granlund tied it when he fooled former Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper — in his first start of the season — with a floater from just inside the blue line. Granlund has four points, including two goals, in his past three games.
The Wild had ample chances to take the lead after that. Center Eric Fehr, after exiting the penalty box, set up Staal during a 3-on-1 rush, but Kuemper made a superb glove save.
“In hindsight, you wish maybe you just delayed a little bit and got it up,” Staal said. “But a lot of times in this league, it’s about quickness and getting it off as fast as you can, and that’s what I tried to do there.”
But Staal — who posted a game-high eight shots — eventually eluded Kuemper when he buried a loose puck in front 6:18 into the third. Kuemper finished with 26 saves.
“We gutted it out,” Staal said. “It was a good effort and good win.”