The Wild has been in plenty of tight games lately, skating against teams that match its desperation and operating on the ice under a razor-thin margin of error.
But Sunday’s matchup with the Bruins was unique.
“That is probably the most playoff-like game we've played all season,” winger Daniel Winnik said. “They're trying to catch Tampa, and we're trying to separate ourselves from the pack in the Western Conference.”
Although the teams are engaged in different races, the back-and-forth struggle that headlined the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win at Xcel Energy Center certainly qualified as a preview of what to expect in the playoffs based on how it was tough for either side to really separate itself – literally.
“There's just no room,” Winnik said. “Everyone is quick to check. They play a very in-your-face style and box out, and we were kind of doing the same. This time of year, it's one- or two-goal games. You're lucky if there are three goals or four goals scored in a game.”
This style didn’t reward the Wild with two points, but the team showed it can keep pace. And getting used to this type of battle should only help the team if it faces the real deal after the regular season.
“There wasn’t a lot of room either way,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think both teams had pockets of energy where they did good, but it was a big point for us.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s overtime loss to the Bruins.
-The Wild didn’t waste its game at-hand on the Avalanche, growing its lead by a point to three for the third spot in the Central Division.
Both teams have seven games remaining.
“Any point you get at this point at this juncture is going to be good,” Boudreau said. “You look at in my estimations, we have seven games left. If win half of them – I mean, we want to win all of them quite frankly – but we’ll be in good stead.”
-Although falling so early in overtime stings, the performance sealed three out of a possible four points for the Wild over the weekend.
“I think if we said going into the weekend we'd get three of four points against two of the best teams in the league, we'd be very happy about it,” Winnik said. “It's always disappointing and feels worse just getting one of two points considering the game we played. I think overall it was a very good effort.”
-This was the fourth extra-time loss for the Wild in the last five games that have gone to overtime or a shootout.
Asked if he’d consider reverting back to starting two forwards and one defenseman instead of two defensemen and one forward, Boudreau said, “I don’t know. We have to see how the game goes, too. We had some guys that were at the end skating on fumes, too, so I had to be aware of who was on the ice.”