The Wild is firmly in the Western Conference pursuit for a playoff spot.
A point streak that extended to six games after a 3-1 win over the Senators Monday at Xcel Energy Center has only solidified its bid.
But the Wild still seems to be feeding off the urgency of a team desperate to be in the hunt, perhaps a reality of the ultra-competitive race that’s unraveling.
“We need the points,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I don't think Ottawa does. We are looking at the scoreboard and seeing Colorado winning and other teams winning. You know this is a game you should be winning. So I think we pushed a little harder in the third.”
Tied at 1 entering the final frame Monday, it certainly looked like the Wild picked up its play to pull away for the win.
Being in close games in the third period isn’t new for the Wild, but its ability to find a way to persevere is a change from the handful of early-season losses that came after falling apart late.
And that trend is likely going to have to continue for the Wild to remain in contention.
“Who knows when it's going to end?” Boudreau said. “I liken it to if this was golf, this would be like a Saturday where it's starting to be moving day and everybody is always gathered close together and then by Sunday the field spreads out a little bit. We want to be part of that field when it does spread out.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s win over the Senators.
- Winger Jason Zucker is on a roll, having scored a goal in four straight games – a run that’s becoming reminiscent of eight goals he scored over a five-game span in November.
While Zucker is putting himself in the right positions around the net to bury pucks, he credits his linemates for the uptick in production.
Both winger Mikael Granlund and captain Mikko Koivu were involved in Zucker’s goal, as the line continues to deliver for the Wild.
“I think it’s just the way our line’s working right now,” Zucker said. “I think we’re all playing well together. I think we’re having fun with it, talking on the bench a lot and making sure we’re staying on the same page.”
- All three of the Wild’s goals came right around the crease; not only did Zucker finish off a cross-crease pass, but so did winger Zach Parise – before Granlund buried a shot in front.
“Typically, that’s the recipe for success,” Zucker said. “You’re going to have those nice goals throughout the season. But, I don’t want to say percentages, but maybe 80 percent are probably within 10 feet of the net. That’s typically how the goals are scored in this league. I think that’s a good recipe for us.”
- Although this was his first game in 13 days, backup Alex Stalock showed no rust amid a 37-save effort.
“I think seeing the puck is huge,” he said. “ … Sometimes it just happens like that where the timing’s great where no one’s in front, or they shoot it just before a screen or after a screen. It just happened to be one of those nights where I saw a lot of the pucks.”