The Wild didn’t trip into an early hole that kept growing like it did its previous outing in a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Ducks Thursday.
But that wasn’t the only improvement made.
It also capitalized first, a rarity that seemed to help set the team up for a successful 2-1 finish over the Blue Jackets Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
“When we’re not chasing the game, we feel we’re in it the whole time,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “May not win them all, but we’re in it all the time. It’s important. There was so much talk the last couple days among us about not being ready at the start. But I think they really were prepared mentally by themselves, and I think it showed during the first period.”
This was just the 18th time this season the Wild has scored first; when that happens, the team is 11-6-1.
“I think we were all disappointed with last game,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “We have a lot of pride, and our fans are great here and we don't like giving them efforts like that. I think everybody was ready and prepared to come out and play regardless of how the game went.
“We jumped on them early and had a really good first period.”
Rookie Jordan Greenway was responsible for the opening goal, as has usually been the case in that scenario. Seven of Greenway’s nine goals have been the first of the game for the Wild, and his five that have opened the game’s scoring are tops among NHL rookies.
“I think there's a little inconsistency with our starts, for sure,” Greenway said. “It's something we've been working on and something we've been looking for. When we do, it helps out a lot and we have a lot more success. I think we were pretty fired up to come out tonight after last game, and it paid off for us.”
The new-look line of wingers Zach Parise and Pontus Aberg and center Victor Rask chipped in the game-winner later in the first, a tally by Parise that sealed his 20th on the season.
Overall, the three combined for six shots and a few other quality looks.
“There’s certain areas on the ice where people have a tendency to go, and we’ll learn that about each other, learn where to hit it just to free space,” Parise said. “That’s chemistry. That’s all it is, and we’ll learn.”
After going a spotless 15-for-15 in relief Thursday, Dubnyk was steady again – yielding just one goal on 20 shots by the Blue Jackets.
“It’s still nice to jump in and play the majority of the game last game and get a good feeling going,” he said.