LOS ANGELES – The puck flew toward the empty Wild net, shot from 100 feet away by Kings defenseman Matt Roy, and rang off the right goalpost.
Thirty seconds remained in Saturday night's game, with the Wild trailing by a goal and goalie Cam Talbot on the bench in favor of a sixth attacker.
"There's the break we needed!" Talbot shouted to his teammates.
After getting jammed up by an own goal, quirky bounces and a photo finish on video review, the Wild's puck luck changed just in time for the team to execute another late-game rally at Staples Center and sweep its season-opening doubleheader against Los Angeles. The Wild got a goal with two seconds left to tie the score, then Marcus Johansson won it in overtime.
Chaotic comebacks are now the Wild's specialty, but the no-quit determination also epitomizes Talbot's debut with the team. His stay-the-course demeanor helped lift the Wild to its first 2-0 start since 2015-16.
"You have to continue to persevere and battle through," Talbot said after Saturday's game. "You know those aren't going to continue to happen throughout the season. It's my job to just go out there and stop the next one and give us a chance to win."
Until these frantic finishes, the Wild was backed into a corner in both games after a series of wacky plays, and Talbot took the hit on every one of them.
Two of the Kings' goals Thursday caromed off Wild players before skidding into the net, with one going in directly off defenseman Carson Soucy's skate. And in Game 2, video confirmed Los Angeles' first goal barely squeaked over the goal line after the puck rolled through the crease. The Kings scored their next goal on a skate deflection in front before eventually carrying a two-goal lead into the third period.
"When those fluky goals go in, you just let them go," Talbot said. "They've got to be out of sight, out of mind, and make sure you're focusing on the next one because the guys are counting on you to make that next save and to give us a chance to come back in the game."
That's exactly what happened.
Talbot went a perfect 13-for-13 on shots in the third period and overtime Thursday, paving the way for a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime thriller. Kirill Kaprizov scored the decisive goal on a breakaway after setting up two goals in regulation, when the Wild trailed by two goals in the third.
More recently, after the Kings went up 3-1 on Saturday, Talbot rattled off 16 consecutive saves to help the Wild activate déjà vu. The empty net miss defined the game of inches.
"We needed one of those," Talbot said. "We weren't getting the bounces yet and finally got one, and it gave us a chance."
After the Wild charged back into Los Angeles territory, defenseman Ryan Suter's shot at 19 minutes, 58 seconds clipped defenseman Matt Dumba and soared past goalie Jonathan Quick's glove. The goal was originally awarded to Suter before getting changed to Dumba on Sunday.
And the rest is history, literally.
Kaprizov orchestrated another epic ending by feeding Johansson for a one-timer that floated over Quick for a 4-3 overtime encore, and the Wild became the first team in NHL history to open the season with a pair of wins after overcoming multi-goal deficits in the third period.
The Wild has won in this fashion in back-to-back games only one other time in franchise history, on Oct. 28 and 30, 2014.
"When you get down 3-1 going into the third period on the road to start the year, one of two things can happen," Talbot said. "You can start looking forward to the next night and just go out there and glide through it, or you can put your head down and get to work and gut out a win. We've been able to do that twice now, so the character in this room is really showing through right now."
Although it's worked so far, falling behind before rallying with seconds to spare isn't a scheme the Wild wants to permanently implement. And if the team can simplify its regulation-time act, the cleaner play is likely to emphasize the steadiness from Talbot that was upstaged by these instant-classic conclusions.
"What we see from the bench and what the players see is that calming effect," coach Dean Evason said. "It's not a hang your head or look at your teammate or throw your hands up in the air. It's just go about your business. You get a bad break, you get ready for the puck to drop and you look to make the next stop. He's been a real calming influence on the group."