WINNIPEG – The goal light stayed dark, and the official behind the net motioned up instead of at the net.
But once Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek whacked a puck just under Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck’s glove, he raised his arm in triumph before his teammates piled into the corner with him — huddling as if they were willing the goal into existence amid the confusion by celebrating.
And with the roster set after nearly six weeks of reshuffling, that resolve might become the identity of the team the rest of the season as it vies for a playoff berth while adjusting to a revamped look. That new look made a heady debut Tuesday night by assembling a 3-2 rally over the Jets in the waning minutes of the third period to extend its winning streak to four games.
In doing so, the Wild leapfrogged the Stars to take possession of the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 68 points, one ahead of Dallas.
“It feels good,” Eriksson Ek said. “This is what we needed, to pull some games together and keep it going and make a push.”
With 1 minute, 1 second left in the third period, Eriksson Ek capped off the Wild’s comeback with his put-back — nudging the puck by Hellebuyck and over the goal line.
Despite no initial tells that the goal was legit, it was eventually announced but had to be confirmed again once Winnipeg issued a coach’s challenge to see if Hellebuyck was interfered with on the play.
Video reviewed determined he wasn’t, and the Wild improved to 4-0 this season against the Jets.
Only 26 seconds before Eriksson Ek’s clincher, the Wild tied the score at 2 on a power-play goal from winger Jason Zucker — his second tally in as many games.
With the Wild set up in a 6-on-4 formation after goalie Devan Dubnyk left the ice, Zucker banged his stick on the ice to call for a pass. And once winger Ryan Donato found him, Zucker wired in a shot from the slot at 18:33. The power play finished a perfect 2-for-2.
“I felt I was pretty open, so I had to make sure I let him know,” Zucker said.
On their first power play, the Jets converted 8:53 into the first — a shot by center Mark Scheifele set up by winger Patrik Laine that went through Dubnyk for the 19th power-play goal scored against the Wild in its past 17 games. Winnipeg finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
The Wild evened the score at 1 with its first power-play goal, a rising point shot from defenseman Brad Hunt at 11:50 of the second period and again orchestrated by Donato — who has six points in four games since joining the team in a trade last week that sent forward Charlie Coyle to the Bruins.
Only 14 seconds after Hunt’s goal, though, Winnipeg retook the lead.
Defenseman Ben Chiarot shook off winger Marcus Foligno to cut inside and unleash a shot that Laine deflected by Dubnyk.
The goal could have been a deflating turning point for the Wild, especially after the emotional loss of forward Mikael Granlund the day before in a trade to Nashville that brought in winger Kevin Fiala.
But instead of sagging, the team surged — exuding a pluckiness that might be the best way to bond a group recalibrating during a critical juncture of the season.
The Wild skated the final 40 seconds short-handed after Zach Parise was called for tripping with the Jets attacking. Winnipeg had pulled its goalie after Erikkson Ek's go-ahead goal, running a 6-on-4 power play until the final horn.
“When you’re on a little bit of a run like this,” Hunt said, “you get the team confidence where you feel no matter what, you’re going to come out on top.”