With its next game not until Friday, the Wild has plenty of time to gather enough available players to fill out its lineup.

But the group that it assembles might want to remember how the Wild persevered while shorthanded Tuesday in a crucial 2-1 win over the Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center.

 

 

“We were smart with the puck,” center Eric Staal said. “I thought a lot better decision-making. Spent more time in the offensive zone. It took a while to get it to work to result in offense, but it was enough to get the job done.”

The Wild didn’t have much room for error, and that didn’t seem to bother the team.

It was without captain Mikko Koivu, who was with his wife Helena after she went into labor. And in the first period, the forward group shrunk to 10 after veteran Matt Hendricks left the ice injured.

“The guys did a good job battling,” center Eric Fehr said. “The lines were switching up a little bit, and it's a little bit tricky on the bench when you don't know exactly what’s happening with the lines. But the guys stayed with it and we got the job done."

Although it fell behind, the Wild kept challenging former teammate Darcy Kuemper – with Kuemper making a handful of clutch saves after the Wild tied it at 1.

Not until the third period did the Wild finally solve Kuemper again, and its unrelenting approach until it secured that goal by Staal fit perfectly with the workmanlike theme of the night.

“I think we’re getting closer to our style and closer to our game,” Staal said. “I think our execution can still get better, but it’s getting better. We’re spending more time in the offensive zone. I think we’re making the plays that we need to.”

After a day off Wednesday, the Wild will practice Thursday ahead of another tough back-to-back.

It’ll play in Dallas Friday before returning home to face the Lightning Saturday.

The Wild could have Koivu back by then, although Boudreau said after the game he hadn’t heard if Koivu’s wife had given birth yet.

And it’s possible the Wild is left shorthanded without much notice again in the future.

“I think there’s eight pregnant wives on our team,” Boudreau said. “So I’m sure this episode will happen again.”

When the Wild reconvenes, don’t be surprised if it adds someone from Iowa of the American Hockey League if Hendricks isn’t back to full strength.

Even if he is, the team could still opt to bring in help with a tough schedule this weekend.

“Hopefully it's just a tweak,” Fehr said of Hendricks. “I don't know if it was the knee or the ankle. I'm not even sure about that. Hopefully he's all right. He's a big key for us in the penalty kill and in the dressing room, and he brings it every night. That'd be a big loss for us."

And although it seems likely Mikael Granlund will shift back to the wing when the Wild restores its number, maybe he sticks at center. 

He certainly didn’t look out of place at the spot against the Coyotes.

“I can play both,” Granlund said. “It’s a little bit different, but I like them both.”

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