Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was so frustrated with his team’s power play — and overall lack of emotion Thursday night — that he decided to send a message.
Trailing Nashville by three goals, Boudreau benched his top two power-play units, inserting Marcus Foligno, Joel Eriksson Ek and Chris Stewart.
“Sometimes you throw somebody else out, and it gets them really mad at you, and then they go out and play,” Boudreau said.
The Wild played like a team possessed, especially late in the game, when they got a tying goal from Eric Staal, a go-ahead goal from Jason Zucker and an empty-netter from Jared Spurgeon in a stirring 6-4 victory.
An announced sellout crowd of 18,888 at Xcel Energy Center had its hopes for a fourth consecutive Devan Dubnyk shutout dashed 49 seconds into the game. His shutout streak ended at 195 minutes, 54 seconds, and the building stayed quiet for most of two periods.
But the Wild came all the way back, ending Nashville’s five-game winning streak and stretching its own winning streak to four. Dubnyk didn’t face a shot on goal for the game’s final 15 minutes, as his teammates peppered Nashville All-Star goalie Pekka Rinne.
“I was just standing there and watching the guys go to work,” Dubnyk said. “I’ve seen it many times, and it’s always impressive.”
The momentum shifted quickly late in the second period, after the Boudreau power-play shuffle, when the Wild got goals from Matt Dumba and Nino Niederreiter to trim Nashville’s lead to 3-2.
Before the Niederreiter goal, the team’s power play was in a 2-for-35 slump. So the team felt good going to the locker room, but Nashville scored 57 into the third period, capitalizing on a Niederreiter turnover.
Staal said the mood on the bench was “not ideal.”
But with 6 minutes, 56 seconds remaining, Jared Spurgeon took a blast from the point that deflected off Ryan Suter and beat Rinne, making it 4-3.
“I liked our composure,” Staal said. “I think we stuck with it and kept playing. … You get that one [goal], and you could feel that energy in the building, and it carries you.”
The tying goal came on the power play. Foligno tried shooting a puck from the slot, but the puck went the wrong direction — right to Staal, who buried it with 4:59 remaining.
Two minutes later, Mikko Koivu passed from behind the goal line to Zucker, who had his back to the goal and made a spin move, zipping a backhanded shot past Rinne.
“Mikko made a great play there,” Zucker said. “It was on my forehand, but I knew I couldn’t turn that way and shoot. I just wanted to get the puck on net, and the only way I could do that was turning around that way and take a backhand.”
Moments later, when Spurgeon lofted the puck over Nashville’s defense for a 114-foot empty-net goal, the arena was a madhouse.
Boudreau was pleased with the turnaround, but he hoped his team learned a lesson.
“I think it proves in sports you have to play with emotion,” he said. “I mean, the last 25 minutes, we were emotionally into it and it’s amazing what emotion does. The first 35 minutes we weren’t and it showed.”