It was a loss, the Wild's second in a row after reconvening for a 32-game sprint to the finish line.
But a 4-3 overtime setback to the Blackhawks Saturday at Xcel Energy Center had a few silver linings.
The team banked a point, flexed its resiliency in overcoming a deficit twice and had a strong start.
Perhaps one of the most encouraging developments, though, was a goal by center Victor Rask – his first since he was added in a trade from the Hurricanes for winger Nino Niederreiter last month.
“I hope so,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s been an experiment, for sure. I thought that line was really good tonight.”
After starting alongside wingers Zach Parise and Pontus Aberg, Rask had new linemmates Saturday and the change seemed to suit him.
He worked with rookie Jordan Greenway and winger Marcus Foligno, players Boudreau figures could be solid complements to Rask.
“If you play with one of your stars so to speak, you always feel you have to get them the puck,” Boudreau explained. “And when you’re new to the team, you’re worried about making them feel good rather than worrying about your own game. I think you put Greenway and Marcus with [him], and it takes a little bit of pressure off of him and he plays his own game and I though he was good tonight.”
Rask tied it at 3 in the third period after wiring in a behind-the-net pass from Greenway. In five games since the trade, Rask has just two points – he assisted in his debut – but a showing like the one he had against the Blackhawks suggests he’s making progress.
“It takes a little time, but it’s just hockey,” Rask said. “Just go out there and play.”
Although the Wild remained winless since returning from the All-Star break and bye week, it looks like it finally shook off the rust.
There was definitely more pace in its play compared to how the team debuted Friday in a 3-1 loss to the Stars in Dallas, and the group skated more cohesively.
“I think that's natural coming off a break,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “Usually the second game is always easier timing-wise and battles. A lot better.”
The Wild lost its fifth coach’s challenge of the season, not getting Chicago’s second goal overturned after calling for off-side.
“It was sort of a guess,” Boudreau said. “The skate looked like it was off. I couldn’t see exactly where the puck was when the puck did come into view. It looked like, even though it was in the air, it was on the line. I don’t know. But I think at that point, I think it actually – I’m not saying this to defend myself on the call – but with the length of [the review], I think it slowed them down a little bit even though they had the [ensuing] power play. They were coming at us pretty good at that point, and we killed the penalty off pretty good. I think it took a little of their momentum away.”
What doesn’t seem to be losing steam is the power play.
Even though it blanked on three opportunities Saturday, it still chipped in for the fourth time in the last three games.
Winger Mikael Granlund remains the architect; he has four assists during a three-game point streak, and all four have been on the power play.