The Wild was on the brink of rolling out a patchwork lineup in the second half of a back-to-back against the same team that had just demolished it the night before, and yet coach Dean Evason was so sure the team wouldn't feel sorry for itself.
"Good God, no," he said before the game. "We're still in the NHL. We're still playing, right? The best part is we play tonight. We didn't get the result we wanted last night. We had some real good things. We didn't have some good things. We got a roster. We've got a hockey club and when that puck's dropped, we're going to compete."
And he was right.
Although it looked like the Wild might be in for a long night, the team flipped the script by not only keeping pace with the Avalanche but then shaking off its West Division rival in overtime to pocket a 4-3 win at Xcel Energy Center and head to Colorado for the second half of the four-game series with confidence.
"As a staff, you get a feel for your group," Evason said. "We came in this morning, had a real quick meeting, had some special teams, had a real quick meeting about how we wanted to come back to the rink tonight and we haven't had a feel of sag in any way. The players gave us great confidence.
"If I exuded that [in my pregame talk] it was because of the group. They felt the confidence, and they instilled that in us as a staff and we were excited about tonight's game. We were excited about the challenge. We thought all the guys that came in gave us great minutes and great energy. But our entire group had that."
Taking the places of winger Marcus Foligno (NHL's COVID protocols), winger Marcus Johansson (undisclosed injury), defenseman Matt Dumba (lower body) and winger Kevin Fiala (suspension) were forwards Gerald Mayhew, Kyle Rau and Luke Johnson and defenseman Brad Hunt.
And while just getting through the night further unscathed might have been a moral victory, the Wild earned more – two much-needed points in the standings, a template for how to slow down the Avalanche and some swagger for its trip to Denver.
"I think it's important for them to get reinforced that they did the right thing," Evason said. "If we weren't rewarded, you could take positives obviously from the way we played. But to have that reinforced to them, I think they'll take a lot out of it and hopefully learn from how they prepared, how they came and how they reacted to different situations in the game."
One of the calming influences in the game was goalie Cam Talbot, who was making his first start since getting hurt Jan.22.
He gave up a goal on the first shot he faced but responded later in the first with a highlight-reel glove save on Nathan MacKinnon.
"If that one goes in, it's 2-0 on the first two or three shots really," said Talbot, who totaled 22 saves. "That would have been a tough hole to dig out ourselves out of but big mentally to dig myself out of. Coming back after nine days off, no practices, and just jumping in against an offense like that is never easy. So, to get that save, you build some confidence there."
Another key player for the Wild was winger Jordan Greenway.
After scoring the Wild's first goal and setting up defenseman Jonas Brodin's game-winner in overtime, Greenway is playing at a point-per-game pace with a team-high 10 through 10 games.
"He's really good with the puck and strong down in the corner," Brodin said. "He's hard to play against. It's fun to see him get some points and score goals."
It's possible the Wild uses this same lineup Tuesday for Round 3.
Dumba is on injured reserve, it's unclear when Foligno will be available and Fiala has one more game left in his suspension.
As for Johansson, Evason wasn't 100 percent sure but he didn't think Johansson would travel to Colorado.