Not everyone had reported to Xcel Energy Center by the 5 p.m. call time.
Jason Zucker was 30 minutes tardy after a two-hour drive from Edina. Linemate Mikael Granlund showed up around 6 p.m. Defensive partners Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin, along with winger Tyler Ennis, arrived even later, about 10 minutes before warm-ups, despite receiving a police escort — a commute that also included a fender-bender, as Ennis dinged Dumba.
“I joked,” winger Daniel Winnik said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know what everyone’s worried about. This is the amount of guys we played with at the start of the season.’ ”
Although the arrival of some players was stalled after the Twin Cities was pounded with snow Monday, the blizzard-like conditions didn’t interrupt the Wild’s rhythm.
Instead, the team kept on rolling — posting a 3-1 win over the Senators in front of a much smaller crowd than the announced attendance of 18,907. The victory secured points for a sixth consecutive game for the Wild, extended its impressive streak on home ice to 14-1-3 and confirmed a successful stretch for the team before the All-Star break with only one more game to go (Thursday in Pittsburgh against the Penguins).
“Nobody else is losing,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You have to win to stay up with the Joneses type thing.”
Zucker scored for a fourth consecutive game, burying the go-ahead goal 4 minutes, 59 seconds into the third period, while backup goalie Alex Stalock stopped 37 shots in his first action since Jan. 9.
Despite the unusual pregame, it was business as usual for the Wild once the puck dropped.
Only 45 seconds into the first period, Zach Parise buried a cross-crease feed from center Eric Staal for his second goal in as many games.
The Wild could have upped its cushion amid 14 first-period shots, only one of which came on a late power play. Zucker, who took a slapshot off the back of his helmet, had a backhand miss, and Winnik sent another close call through the crease.
“You need to push a little bit harder to make sure those go in,” Zucker said.
Not capitalizing came back to haunt the Wild, as the Senators tied it 1-1 on a Matt Duchene breakaway at 9:38 of the second period.
The Wild had plenty of chances to regain the lead later in the second. But a lack of execution kept both teams even into the third before Zucker’s tally — which looked eerily similar to Parise’s goal from the first period. Zucker one-timed a pass through the crease from Granlund for a 2-1 lead.
“I think we just want to be around the net,” said Zucker, whose four-game goal streak is his longest since he scored eight times in five consecutive games Nov. 8 to 16.
The Wild had another opportunity on the power play after defenseman Fredrik Claesson was called for interference for taking out Staal as he pursued a loose puck, and the team capitalized to go 1-for-2 with the man advantage; Ottawa went 0-for-2.
After splitting the defense, Granlund lost the puck — right to Dumba, who fed it back to Granlund for the goal past Senators goalie Mike Condon at 10:09. The goal capped a two-point effort for Granlund, who has eight points in his past six games.
“I’m glad we’re in these tight games,” Granlund said. “In the beginning of the season, we were giving them away and it’s nice to get that one. We’ve been pretty good lately, so one more before the All-Star break.”