DENVER – Wild coach Dean Evason's message to his team Thursday night after a 5-1 debacle at Colorado made it clear that what had just taken place had to be a one-off.
"You have to have a short-term memory after a game like that," said goaltender Cam Talbot, who made a career-high 50 saves on an eye-popping 55 shots.
But before the players got a chance to redeem themselves in the rematch Saturday afternoon at Ball Arena, they had to relive the rout during a video session Friday evening.
"We can put it to bed, but yet we can learn from what happened," Evason said. "They played extremely well. We played extremely poorly, and the best thing is we can get right back at it."
As forgettable as the performance was from the Wild's perspective, the team couldn't completely dismiss it, not when the action was littered with breakdowns that require attention.
That was featured in the presentation players watched Friday, with most of the issues concentrated in the Wild's zone, where the team struggled to alleviate the Avalanche's pressure because players kept turning pucks over.
"They possess the puck better than anybody in the National Hockey League in the offensive zone, and we allowed that to happen by not getting it the heck out of there," Evason said.
Colorado's top line, in particular, made the Wild pay for those miscues. Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen racked up 10 points, including four goals, and had 15 total shots.
"Great chemistry as a line, great players individually and they do special things," said defenseman Ian Cole, who was with the Avalanche before the Wild acquired him in a trade earlier this season. "Like Mikko's goal in the third period. [He] knocks it out of the air into space to himself, backhand short-side elbow. It's a great play. That being said, it is defendable."
By that point, the Wild was playing shorthanded since defenseman Matt Dumba left in the second period after crashing feet-first into the boards. Dumba had to be helped off the ice and wasn't putting weight on his right leg.
Evason said Dumba is dealing with a lower-body injury and called Dumba doubtful to play Saturday. If he's unavailable, the Wild plans to keep Brad Hunt in the lineup and add Carson Soucy, who's eligible to return after serving a one-game charging suspension on Thursday. Goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, who's on a nine-game win streak, will get the start.
"It's better than it looked," Evason said of Dumba's injury.
But the Wild's defensive presence wasn't the only problem.
At the other end, the team's forecheck fizzled — making extended zone time almost impossible — and the Wild put just 20 shots on net, which tied its lowest output for a game this season.
Better defending should help the team's offense, since cleaner exits and smoother transitions through the neutral zone can set the Wild up to attack with poise and numbers.
What could also make a difference, however, has nothing to do with X's and O's and technical structure.
The Wild didn't have its usual spunk and was out-hustled to pucks, a departure from the attentiveness that's led to so much of this season's success.
Rediscovering that mentality might be most important in determining whether the outcome Thursday really is a one-time occurrence.
"You're not going to get the results every night, but every single night we have to have the same result as far as how we play the game and how we want to approach it to start and then how we start the game and how we have to have that energy level in order to do what we do as a hockey club," Evason said.
"We did not do that here [Thursday], but we have absolutely complete faith that the group will rebound and do what needs to be done."