With Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley dried up like a chapped lip the last several games, Mike Yeo reunited the trio with the hope of reigniting their early-season output.
Parise, Koivu and Heatley teamed up for two goals Thursday night against Colorado, including the go-ahead goal in the third period.
It made no difference, though. The Wild gave up the lead less than a minute later and wound up losing 4-3 in a shootout to the injury-riddled Avalanche, the last-place team in the Western Conference.
"Our big guys were very good. It's a shame to waste a performance like that," said Yeo, looking like he was ready to combust.
Matt Duchene, who scored the tying goal 42 seconds after Koivu had Xcel Energy Center vibrating, iced the game in the shootout after Milan Hejduk, celebrating his 37th birthday, also scored. Parise and Koivu shot blanks.
The Wild got a point, but it was no solace for an aggravating team that on paper should be a lot better than its 6-6-2 record.
For a change, the Wild, which ranks 29th in goals per game (Colorado is 27th), scored more than one goal in regulation.
"This was probably one of our poorest games as of late and we scored more goals than we did in the good games that we played," said Mike Rupp, who gave the Wild a 2-1 lead early in the third. "This is a game we needed to win."
It was the Wild's fourth game in six nights, including back-to-back games in Calgary and Vancouver. The team didn't practice Wednesday because it landed at 3 p.m. It will take Friday off to rest tired bodies.
Frankly, a team that really needs to practice isn't finding the time during a lockout-shortened season.
"Whether it's the travel or what, I know one thing: If you only play well this year when you're feeling really good, that's going to be a problem," Yeo said, bristling. "Everybody's faced with the same thing. Some people will make the excuse and some people will find a way. You can't just chalk it up to, 'Oh, we had travel. Oh, we played three games in four days. Oh, we haven't had practice.' It doesn't matter.
"You have to find a way to be good ... at least."
With the Wild down 1-0, Parise tied it with his seventh goal. But after Zenon Konopka face-washed Greg Zanon's grandiose red beard, Hejduk, the all-time leader in power-play goals against the Wild with 13, made it 2-1.
In the third, Rupp, acquired Feb. 4, got more ice time because Cal Clutterbuck was lost due to an undisclosed injury. The 6-5 forward stole a puck from Matt Hunwick behind the net, took Mikael Granlund's pass and jammed in his first goal 2 1/2 minutes into third.
Nine minutes later, the Wild took a 3-2 lead. Ryan Suter made a cross-ice pass to Heatley, who undressed defenseman Jan Hejda to draw four defenders to him. That allowed Koivu to backhand his third goal into an open net.
But on the ensuing shift, the Granlund-Kyle Brodziak-Devin Setoguchi line with defensemen Justin Falk and Jared Spurgeon gave up an easy rush, then began scrambling. Bodies were everywhere; Yeo called it, "soft coverage," and Duchene's wraparound caromed in off Spurgeon.
"It was sort of indicative of the game that we were playing," Yeo said.
Parise scored his second goal in nine games, Heatley had his first two points in nine games and Koivu his first goal in eight.
"Bottom line is we lost," Parise said.