It was a move Bruce Boudreau had never made in his coaching career, yanking his starting goalie late in the third period with the game unresolved.
But after the Senators flipped a three-goal deficit at the outset of the third period into a tie with less than 10 minutes to go, Boudreau felt the Wild could use a break.
He had the option to call a timeout, but that might have emboldened Ottawa if the team interpreted the pause as a sign the Wild was panicking.
So instead, Boudreau subbed Devan Dubnyk out for backup Alex Stalock.
And the decision appeared to spark the Wild since the team responded by reclaiming the lead and holding off the Senators 6-4 Wednesday in front of 19,035 at Xcel Energy Center to stop its two-game skid.
“I just thought it was needed,” Boudreau said.
With 5 minutes, 58 seconds remaining, center Eric Staal pushed the Wild ahead for good on a rolling shot — his second goal of the game —before center Eric Fehr added an empty-netter at 19:22, a photo finish that seemed unlikely amid a productive start for the Wild.
“You should never complain when you get two points,” Boudreau said. “But you’d like to think you’d be able to close it out a little better than that.”
Not long after a Joel Eriksson Ek shot caromed off the crossbar, the Wild converted with certainty when Eriksson Ek found rookie Jordan Greenway for a one-timer 16:10 into the first.
Before the period ended, the Wild capitalized on the power play on a shot that is becoming a trademark of defenseman Matt Dumba.
He connected on a slick saucer pass from winger Mikael Granlund for a one-timer inside the left faceoff circle at 19:49.
The assist, Granlund’s first of three on the night, was the 200th of his career.
Early in the second period, the Wild delivered again with the man advantage.
This time, Staal one-timed the puck past Senators goalie Craig Anderson at 6 minutes.
Ottawa started to chip away at its deficit at 12:48, with center Chris Tierney finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with a redirect.
But that three-goal cushion resurfaced with 3:57 to go in the period when Dumba wired a wrist shot through traffic and behind Anderson for his first multi-goal effort of the season and fourth of his career.
Not only is Dumba tied for the team lead in goals, but he paces all NHL defensemen with 10 and four power-play tallies.
It was also a fruitful showing for the power play, as it ended the game 2-for-4. The unit did have one blemish, though, surrendering a shorthanded goal 52 seconds into the third period to Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot — the first goal given up by the power play this season. Ottawa went 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
That seemed to galvanize the Senators, who scored twice more in 1:23 to pull even with the Wild.
Defenseman Christian Jaros’ shot eluded Dubnyk at 11:32, and then a Colin White floater at 12:55 chased Dubnyk from the game.
“I never want to be taken out of the game,” Dubnyk said. “I always feel like I’m in control and can play and feel like I’ve played enough games to stick it out. But it doesn’t matter. We won.”
Stalock came on in relief, making one save the rest of the way. Dubnyk posted 22, while Anderson totaled 28 stops.
“It doesn’t matter how you do it,” Staal said. “You just gotta win.”