Late-game goals and comeback wins defined the Wild's season.

Now that same resiliency will have to save it.

"You got nothing to lose," Wild alternate captain Marcus Foligno said, "and we seem to like that position."

After dropping two in a row to trail the Blues 3-2 in its best-of-seven, first-round matchup, the Wild will need to pull off the gutsiest rally of all beginning in Game 6 on Thursday at St. Louis, since a crunch-time U-turn is necessary to continue the pursuit of a Stanley Cup.

"We've seen our group respond, and we're expecting our group to respond," coach Dean Evason said. "It's a must-win. It's desperation. We're going to play our best game, all the cliches that you want to throw out there. It's one hockey game at a time."

To be fair, coming from behind in October isn't the same as staving off elimination in the playoffs. But both involve the ability to perform under pressure, and the Wild has proven it has a knack for that.

Of its franchise-record 53 victories during the regular season, the Wild achieved a whopping 25 in comeback fashion, which tied for the third most in the NHL. Nine times the Wild recovered from a multigoal hole, including a three-goal disadvantage April 10 vs. the Kings, and 10 of its rallies happened in the third period.

The team also racked up a league-high 19 goals at 6-on-5, with two coming in one of the Wild's spunkiest turnarounds Nov. 6 at Pittsburgh: a 5-4 shootout victory after Ryan Hartman converted with the goalie pulled and just three seconds remained in the third period.

"We're a desperate hockey team now," Foligno said. "You'll see our best."

While this experience could be helpful, capitalizing on it still requires execution, and that's where the Wild can be better all over the ice.

  • Wild vs. Blues: 8:30 p.m. on TNT, BSN, 100.3 FM

There have been blatant breakdowns in the defensive zone, particularly on Vladimir Tarasenko's go-ahead goal early in the third period during the Blues' 5-2 rally in Game 5, but the offense that led the Wild to its highest-scoring season has stalled.

Offensive leaders like Kevin Fiala, Hartman and Foligno are goalless, and nearly half of the Wild's output (seven of its 15 tallies) is courtesy of Kirill Kaprizov after he was responsible for both goals Tuesday.

"You need secondary scoring," Foligno said. "It's on our line to produce. We didn't do that [Tuesday]. You get two out of your best player, and you need other guys following up on it."

As St. Louis did after it sputtered twice in a row to the Wild, the Wild is planning to adjust.

"We lost the game. We have to make some changes," Evason said. "We will. Hopefully we'll choose the right ones."

Nick Bjugstad and Connor Dewar have been the healthy scratches up front, while Dmitry Kulikov and Jordie Benn are the reserves on defense. Goalie Cam Talbot has also been a spectator, backing up Fleury every game so far this series.

"His play's been real good," Evason said of Fleury. "The pucks that have gone in the net he hasn't seen."

“It's a must-win. It's desperation. We're going to play our best game, all the cliches that you want to throw out there. It's one hockey game at a time.”
Dean Evason

Talbot went 8-0-3 since the Wild traded for Fleury from the Blackhawks on March 21. His last appearance was two weeks ago, an overtime win vs. the Flames on April 28.

"We trust both our goaltenders," Evason said. "We've seen enough of Marc-Andre Fleury to know and have watched him forever to know that he's a guy that responds correctly. We also know that Cam Talbot is the ultimate professional, works his butt off if he's playing or not playing, and would be ready to go."

Whoever is on the ice for the Wild, the objective stays the same.

All season, the team has worked out of jams. The stakes have changed, but the Wild has had plenty of practice flipping the script.

"Our belief is strong," Evason said. "We know we're a good hockey club. We know we're still playing hockey. We have a chance to win Game 6, and that is our focus, period."