From a bird’s eye view, the past four days have been a resounding success for the Wild.
It completed a sweep over the Golden Knights, stumping Vegas in its own building – which few teams have been able to accomplish this season.
The Wild followed that up with another victory the next night on the road in Arizona against a Coyotes team that had puzzled the Wild twice earlier in the schedule.
And on Monday, the Wild wrapped a busy stretch with one more point from a 4-3 overtime loss to the Kings at Xcel Energy Center.
But when examining that last game closer, it’s hard not to spot the chance the team had to gather six out of six points since the Wild led the Kings with less than a minute to go in regulation.
“If this was Thursday and you said we were going to get five out of six, we'd be happy,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But when you have the opportunity to get six out of six and pretty well put a team behind you, you're not quite as thrilled.”
This result widened the gap between the Wild and Avalanche to four points but clearly, a five-point margin would be tougher for Colorado to overcome.
Still, the focus the Wild showcased in going 2-0-1 over these last few days was positive.
It flexed its skill in a nearly flawless 4-2 win over the Golden Knights, a performance that showed flashes of just how difficult it can be to corral the Wild when it's combining its speed with muscle and hustle.
The group showed resiliency in Arizona, overcoming a poor second to pull away from the Coyotes in the third period en route to a 3-1 victory.
And the Wild again showed its perseverance against the Kings, an equally urgency bunch, by erasing a two-goal deficit and finding the go-ahead goal in crunch time late in the third.
But by not bubble-wrapping that lead to safety, the Wild missed an opportunity to really solidify its hold on the third spot in the Central Division even though one point is better than none.
“Every point you get right now is great,” Boudreau said. “To get into the next category, the 90 points, is really big. Again, we had the lead with a minute to go and then we didn't do the right things in the overtime.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s overtime loss to the Kings.
-It didn’t help the team nab two points, but the Wild’s response after falling behind by a pair of goals was just the answer it needed.
“There was chatter on the bench, and Zach [Parise] made a great move and it was a great shot and once we got that goal, it got the crowd into it and generated some life for us and I thought we were the better team after that,” Boudreau said.
-Although he wasn’t credited with the game-winner that he looked poised to lasso late in the third period, center Joel Eriksson Ek’s fourth tally of the season was an encouraging reward for the work ethic he put in to Monday’s game.
“He played really good, and I put him out there because it was sort of a half shift and I didn't want Matt [Cullen] getting caught on a long shift,” Boudreau explained. “That was the only reason Joel went out there and [Jason Zucker] gave him a great pass after Charlie [Coyle] worked it into the corner. Hopefully that's a real confidence booster for him.”
-The Wild won’t play until Saturday, giving it three days to practice after a day off Tuesday.
“I think we’ve got to take advantage of these four days here,” Staal said. “Get your mind right and get your body right to have a strong push in the last nine. We’re going to need everybody. It starts with a big one on Saturday. We’ll be ready to go.”