Hanging back before accelerating into overdrive for a frantic finish — that routine worked for the Wild on the road when it piled up points from a pair of overtime victories to open the season.
But the more the Wild tries it, the more uneven the results are becoming.
Despite erasing another two-goal deficit, the Wild couldn't complete the comeback and the San Jose Sharks pushed back for a 5-3 victory Sunday at Xcel Energy Center that split the two-game series.
"You're playing with fire obviously," coach Dean Evason said. "We've been fortunate a couple of times to come back from a couple goals down, and obviously we did it again tonight. But it burned us in the end."
After Kevin Fiala tied the score at 3-3 on the power play 7 minutes, 20 seconds into the third period, the Sharks responded with 1:48 to go courtesy of a rising backhander from Brent Burns. Matt Nieto added an empty-netter at 19:31.
"Burns made a great play, great shot," Evason said. "He's a special player, but we didn't confront him. We talk about stick on puck all the time and competing and we just faded out. There was no attempt to check whatsoever."
The outcome, however, was fitting of the uncoordinated and subdued start by the team, a laid-back response by the Wild (4-2) to building a 1-0 lead for the fifth time in six games.
At 4:21 of the first period, Kirill Kaprizov found linemate Zach Parise for a solo look that Parise sent top shelf over goalie Martin Jones for his second goal in as many games.
The assist was Kaprizov's team-leading sixth point, and he also leads NHL rookies in scoring.
But San Jose was in control for most of the period, peppering goalie Kaapo Kahkonen with pucks while the Wild's lone attempt for much of the first was Parise's goal.
Finally, at 19:02, the Sharks capitalized on a shot from former Wild forward Ryan Donato. The puck caromed off Jared Spurgeon before sliding five-hole on Kahkonen, who ended up with 31 saves compared to 26 for Jones.
The Wild didn't fare any better early in the second.
On the penalty kill, Marcus Foligno opted for a drop pass at center instead of a dump-in and San Jose intercepted the puck to go the other way and set up Evander Kane for a one-timer at 6:39.
Nick Bjugstad appeared to score the equalizer when he poked in a puck amid a scramble in the crease at 7:45, but the Sharks challenged on the grounds of goaltender interference. And after the play went to video review, the call was reversed with the league determining Bjugstad pushed Jones' pad into the net and that caused the puck to cross the goal line.
Only 41 seconds later, the Sharks converted on a Noah Gregor shot off the rush to go up 3-1.
"The belief is here, and guys were mad at ourselves," Fiala said. "That's not us. I think we figured it out there. Just tonight it was a little late, though."
Bjugstad got his disallowed goal back, cutting the Wild's deficit in half on a deflection off a Spurgeon shot at 16:47 during 4-on-4 action for his first goal with the Wild and second point.
"You gotta get to the net in this league, especially when you're not scoring," Bjugstad said. "That's where you find it."
And on the team's fourth power play in the third, the Wild finally connected — a one-timer by Fiala after a faceoff win. The Sharks also finished 1-for-4.
"Nice goal," Fiala said. "The PP is going to be better."
But the Wild couldn't take its rally one step further, one of the risks of falling behind in the first place.
"Positive attitude has allowed us to come back in another hockey game, which is good clearly," Evason said. "It's something that we can take from, but something we don't want to live by that's for sure."