Down and out, the Wild looking for a pulse, Darroll Powe played the role of defibrillator Saturday night when he dropped the gloves with one of the NHL's biggest agitators.
With the Wild trailing in the second period and in need of a jolt, Powe, an Ivy Leaguer not known for fisticuffs, took exception to Steve Ott going after little Jared Spurgeon, then punching Cal Clutterbuck in the head.
So Powe, moments after the Dallas Stars took a one-goal lead, fought Ott after a faceoff. A few minutes later, the offensively challenged Wild scored not once, not twice, but three times in 59 seconds en route to a 5-2 pummeling at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild, which scored six goals on an 0-3-1 road trip, scored four times in a period for the first time in more than two years and won for the third time in 18 games against a team one point behind in the standings.
"That's a guy who battles like that every day. Every day," Clutterbuck said of Powe. "When you see him put it on the line like that, it makes you pick yourself up. You want to do it for him. That's one thing we've gotten away from is the 'Do it for each other thing,' and I think we really got it back tonight."
With the Wild trailing 2-1, Clutterbuck and Eden Prairie's Chad Rau scored 14 seconds apart -- Rau's being the first of his career and eventual game-winner in his first NHL game.
"I kind of blacked out immediately after going nuts in the celebration," said Rau, his left eye stinging from a postgame shaving gel towel to the face from Clutterbuck.
Forty-five seconds after that, Kyle Brodziak buried one. Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley, who had three points for the first time in a Wild sweater, also scored, and Josh Harding made 23 saves.
The Wild refined its identity as a hard-working, hard-forechecking, good-defending team. It played on its toes, pounced on counterattacks, was all over the puck.
"That was one of our best games for creating turnovers in a long time," coach Mike Yeo said. "I felt we looked fast again."
The Stars' Eric Nystrom, who felt "betrayed" by the Wild after it purged him in a salary dump, got the game's opening goal, but Setoguchi tied it on a power play.
Philip Larsen gave Dallas a 2-1 lead, but four seconds later, Powe, a Princeton grad, and Ott, considered one of the NHL's dirtiest hombres, came out of the box from prior roughing minors and danced for real (Powe's fifth NHL fight). Ott wrestled Powe to the ice, then, against code, popped Powe in the face. The Wild bench exploded.
"I don't think guys were too happy about that," Powe said.
"Gutless play," Clutterbuck called it.
After Nystrom's turnover, Clutterbuck scored on a slick backhander. The next shift, Rau withstood Larsen's hit, got up and attempted a wraparound. Rau's second try deflected in off Brenden Morrow's stick for the special tally.
The shift after that, Brodziak buried Heatley's feed for the fastest three goals in Wild history (59 ticks) -- and 3:17 after Powe sparked the Wild.
"Emotionally, [Powe] gave our bench a huge lift," Yeo said. "That's a team guy."
Said Powe, "There's a lot of guys playing hard, and I was just part of it."
The Wild got great energy from Rau and fellow Houston Aeros callups Nate Prosser, Jed Ortmeyer and Matt Kassian. Yeo played each to infuse a "positive mind frame" into the lineup because so much of the Wild's issues have been "between the ears."
If that's the case, Wild fans, who gave the team a rare standing ovation, can only hope Saturday's effort and performance jams its way into the head as well.
"Boys did a great job responding," Powe said.