Right now, Bruce Boudreau couldn’t care less about the Wild’s 12-game winning streak in December, nor the six regulation losses the Wild had during a torrid three-month, 38-game span.
The Wild coach knows his team’s recent play isn’t up to snuff and won’t fly come playoff time.
That’s why Boudreau refused to say all was cured after the Wild ended a five-game losing streak with a much-needed 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.
“Anybody can do anything once. So let’s see how we do Thursday [against the Philadelphia Flyers],” Boudreau said.
Desperate for a conquest and raring for some positivity, the Wild won for the second time in nine games and for the third time in 11 games this month. Two of those victories have come against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks, who had a slump triggered by the Wild back on March 5.
It was a strong two-way game for the Wild, which swept last year’s Stanley Cup finalist in a season series (3-0) for the first time. The Wild improved to 9-1-1 against the Sharks in the past 11 meetings in St. Paul.
“We had a great start to the game, and I think it was just good for us to get feeling good,” said Zach Parise, who had two primary assists, including on Charlie Coyle’s game-winning goal. “We picked up where we left off against Winnipeg, did a good job forechecking and getting the puck back.
“And then, like we’re going to have to continue to do when you get the lead, you’ve got to lock it down and we did a good job of that in the third.”
The Wild held the Sharks to no goals and 10 total shots in the first and third periods.
“In the third, we checked and checked and checked and we finally succeeded,” Boudreau said.
As badly as the Wild needed a ‘W,’ so did Devan Dubnyk, who had gone seven starts without a victory, although he won in relief of Darcy Kuemper on March 10 at Florida.
Dubnyk made 21 saves for his career-high 37th victory, matching Niklas Backstrom’s franchise record for wins in a season.
“It’s been waiting for a while. It felt like a long month,” Dubnyk said. “I think this is what we needed against a really good hockey team. We can stop talking about the [negativity] now. This is what we’re about.”
Dubnyk added, sarcastically, “I’ve got to make things interesting at the end of the second period, of course.”
Dubnyk was referring to a crazy sequence in which both teams combined for four goals in 63 seconds — lowlighted by his own puck-handling gaffe.
With the Wild having scored first in three of the previous 13 games and holding a lead for 15 minutes, 41 seconds out of the previous 480 minutes (it had a 1-7 record in that span), Matt Dumba scored a big power-play goal midway through the first period.
The Wild held a 16-5 shots lead at one point. But in 12-minute span of the second period, the Wild managed one shorthanded shot before David Schlemko tied the score.
But the Wild responded 33 seconds later with Martin Hanzal’s first goal with Minnesota. Fifteen seconds after that, Parise’s aggressive forecheck caused a turnover and Coyle, who has struggled offensively the past few months, scored his second goal in two games.
“It’s nice to contribute,” Coyle said. “I just have to keep playing my game. That’s it. If they go in, they go in.”
With the Wild readying to take a two-goal lead into the third, Dubnyk lost a puck behind the net on a dump-in and Patrick Marleau scored on a wraparound 15 seconds after Coyle’s goal.
“Deflating,” Parise said. “But still coming into the third period with a lead, we should be confident that we can close it out.”
The Wild did and now has a magic number of two — a combination of Wild points or lost points by the ninth-place Los Angeles Kings — to earn a fifth consecutive playoff berth. Both teams play Thursday.
“It feels good,” Coyle said. “We are back in the win column. That’s what we want.”