BOSTON – Inside the locker room, the vibe wanted to focus on the positives.
Twice the Wild led by two, the team scored a pair of goals on the power play and it earned a much-needed point against one of the top teams in the NHL.
“We played a tight-checking road game just like we wanted,” Matt Dumba said. “We can’t hang our heads about that.”
But outside the players’ quarters, where coach Bruce Boudreau held court, the mood emphasized how what could have been the Wild’s signature victory of the season curdled into its latest collapse — a 5-4 overtime letdown to the Bruins in front of 17,850 at TD Garden that ended the team’s modest win streak at two games.
“We blew a two-goal lead with under five minutes to go,” Boudreau said. “That’s the way I look at it.”
Both takeaways are accurate, and this two-track reality aptly describes the state of the Wild.
Although the team is making strides, going 3-0-2 in its last five, this progress hasn’t translated to the standings where the Wild (9-11-3) is still stranded in the bottom five.
One more point wouldn’t have made much of a difference, but the significance would have been felt rather than seen — an emotional lift that would have continued to validate this improvement.
And despite the outcome, the players felt this performance wasn’t a regression.
“It shows that we’re right there on any given night,” Dumba said. “We just have to execute and have that killer instinct.”
After Kevin Fiala scored on a carom of the Bruins’ Torey Krug at 5 minutes, 19 seconds of the third period, the Wild went ahead 4-2 and seemed primed to close out the game based on how attentively it had been playing.
But with 1:55 to go and an extra attacker on the ice, Boston’s comeback was kick-started by a tap-in from David Krejci. Only 48 seconds later, Krejci extended the action on a one-timer on a Bruins power play.
“We knew that they were going to call a couple on us,” Boudreau said. “That’s just the way the game is played. … Luke [Kunin] tripped him. That’s a penalty.”
In overtime, the Wild had three shots — including one from Brad Hunt that goalie Tuukka Rask kicked aside — but the Bruins prevailed on their lone look: an end-to-end rush by Krug at 2:41.
“In overtime I don’t know what we were thinking,” Boudreau said.
The Wild is 12-31 all-time in 3-on-3 overtime and 0-3 this season.
“You can’t skate untouched right through the middle of the ice,” Boudreau said. “We had lines put together and I changed them at the end. That’s my fault.”
Before fizzling, the Wild was sharp.
Jason Zucker opened the scoring at 8:53 with his backhand on the power play. After Jake DeBrusk evened it 4:14 into the second on a deflection, the Wild responded 2 minutes later when the puck rolled in off Victor Rask’s skate.
During a four-minute advantage after Zdeno Chara high-sticked Zucker, who drew three penalties in the game, Eric Staal whacked in another rebound at 14:26.
Although the Bruins inched closer with 4 seconds left in the second when Brad Marchand gathered a bounce off the end boards and scored, the Wild regained a two-goal cushion on Fiala’s tally and had a chance to go up by three but Zucker missed on a breakaway.
But what happened next made sure the Wild’s highlights weren’t the only memorable parts of the game.
“For 55 minutes I thought we played outstanding and even in the third period I thought when they were trying to put a push on positionally we were great,” Boudreau said. “Sometimes coaches take it a little harder than players. I’ll get over it by tomorrow.”