The road has been an uneven experience this season for the Wild at 10-9-3, but maybe the offense can change that.
After another well-rounded performance in a 5-2 victory over the Sharks Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild will depart for a four-game trip with goals coming from all over the lineup.
"It's really important to keep going like we are," center Joel Eriksson Ek said. "It all starts in our D-zone. We play smart. We had good breakouts, and then we can create offense from there."
Eriksson Ek's line chipped in a goal Saturday; same with the power play. And the fourth line – if it's still called that – continues to contribute, this time scoring twice.
Zach Parise is on a three-game goal streak, and so is Mats Zuccarello (his second of the season).
"We caught a few [bounces] for sure tonight," coach Dean Evason said about his team, which capitalized on an own goal by the Sharks and had a puck sail into the net off Eriksson Ek's chest. "But we thought we worked for a lot of our opportunities, as well."
Kevin Fiala didn't factor into the Wild's offense, and he also didn't play the last 11 minutes of the second period. He was benched for turning the puck over.
"We had a chat with him and said that you're not going to play the rest of the period and you'll play the start of the third period," Evason said. "But everyone has to do the right things, and it's not just Kevin because after that we turned it over a couple more times.
"So, when we went in right after the second period, we had a quick chat with the group in the room. That has to stop. It doesn't matter what the score is. It doesn't matter where we are in the game, especially if we're leading a hockey game. You have to do the right things to one, preserve what you've built and then hopefully expand on it. But you can't do that if you're turning the puck over and feeding into their push."
Despite the Sharks picking up the pace in the second, they couldn't close the gap and the Wild secured its 17th win at Xcel Energy Center this season; only Colorado and the New York Islanders have more with 18.
"It's really important to play good at home," Eriksson Ek said. "I think we gotta keep doing what we're doing. We can't get comfortable. We battle hard, and it's really important to get these games at home when you're at home and have a little homestand like this then go on the road. It builds up your confidence. We just have to keep pushing every day to get even better."
After the game, Wild players shook hands with the Sharks' Patrick Marleau, who tied Gordie Howe's NHL record for games played at 1,767.
"It was initiated by [Ryan Suter]," Evason said of the Wild acknowledging Marleau after the game. "I think that is such a classy thing for our group to do and then we talked about it after the game in the coaches' room that anytime your name can even be mentioned in the same sentence as Gordie Howe, it's very, very special. And what he's done for as long as he's done it and how he's played the game – not on the perimeter, just in the dirty areas – I don't know him personally, but everything you hear it's how team-first he is. It's a wonderful accomplishment."