WINNIPEG – It was a late-game rally, with two goals in 26 seconds in the final two minutes of regulation.
The comeback came against a division rival, the same one that whisked the Wild out of the playoffs last season in just five games.
And the result was a response to yet another round of change for the roster, the debut of the latest look sans a former core piece.
Any one of these takeaways would be meaningful on its own, but packaged together the significance of the 3-2 triumph for the Wild over the Jets Tuesday at Bell MTS Place skyrocketed.
“Everybody was pretty pumped up,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
This was just the third time this season the Wild has won despite trailing after two periods in 26 games, an unlikely turnaround made more impressive by the caliber of the competition since Winnipeg is near the top of the Central Division and looked primed for a statement showing after adding center Kevin Hayes before the trade deadline expired Monday.
The Wild also made an acquisition, bringing in winger Kevin Fiala from the Predators, but the exit of forward Mikael Granlund to compete the deal was a goodbye that caught the team off-guard.
And yet the group didn’t let that distract it from its current objective, and that’s competing for a playoff spot.
“This is our team,” winger Jason Zucker said. “There’s nothing we can do about it. Granny was a great guy. … He’s a great guy, great friend. It’s going to be tough not having him around, but there’s nothing we can do now. We have Kevin here, and we’re excited to see what he can bring.”
With this the Wild’s longest win streak since it rattled off five in a row Oct.16-27, the team embarks on a three-day break in the schedule on an upswing.
After a day off Wednesday, the team will practice Thursday and Friday before continuing a rigorous stretch against some of the league’s best by visiting the Flames in Calgary.
Winger Ryan Donato might wish he could keep playing.
He’s been on a roll ever since he joined the lineup last week, racking up six points in four games.
Only two players in franchise history have posted longer point streaks to start their Wild careers; winger Zach Parise had a five-game run in 2013, while Pavol Demitra’s was six in 2006.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster,” Donato said of the game. “But it just goes to show how tight the team is and if we stick to what we can do and what the coaches preach, then we’re going to have success.”
Although it didn’t factor into the scoresheet, the fourth line received credit after the game by Boudreau for stoking the comeback.
“They got the breakaway, and then they kept the puck in the zone,” Boudreau explained. “They’re the ones, to me in the three, four shifts they had, that sort of our got our momentum going. Then we got the penalty that were hoping to get that seemed at a perfect time because our thought process was give them a minute and then we can pull the goalie with the other group coming on and we might get something. Fortunately, we did.”