Maybe it was Marcus Foligno's fight after the opening faceoff.
The new forward lines might have done the trick, too.
Or perhaps the Wild was just fed up after dropping back-to-back games for the first time this season.
"I don't know exactly why," coach Dean Evason said.
Either way, the team stirred from its recent snoozefest to debut its best start thus far and then weathered a wave of adversity en route to a 5-3 win over the Kings on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center, earning back the two points it lost in the first game of the series.
"We weren't gonna lose another one here at home," Matt Dumba said. "It's got to be a tough place to come into. That's what we wanted to do tonight, and [Foligno] kind of set things off and everyone else followed suit."
The Wild (5-3) scored three goals in the first, the most in any period this season, but the victory was secured in the second when the Wild flirted with blowing its early edge.
After consecutive penalties at the beginning of the period, the Wild's manpower took a permanent hit when Kevin Fiala was ejected. He crunched Los Angeles' Matt Roy from behind into the boards, receiving a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct — a sequence that could merit further discipline by the NHL.
"We'll just wait and see what the league has to say," Evason said, "and we'll deal with it from there."
On the ensuing five-minute power play, Drew Doughty's shot rolled five-hole on goalie Kaapo Kahkonen to move the Kings within a goal of the Wild at 3-2. Los Angeles' first goal also came on the power play, a deflection by Dustin Brown.
But the Wild reclaimed control when Nick Bjugstad provided a much-needed insurance goal with 1:22 to go in the second period – this after Kahkonen made a key save on Blake Lizotte to keep the Wild's slim lead intact. Kahkonen racked up a season-high 32 saves, while Jonathan Quick had 23 for the Kings.
"The guys just stuck with it," Evason said. "It's such a credit to our leadership group that there's no sag. There's no yelling. There's no whining. It's just, 'You know what? W got a penalty, so let's go kill it.'"
The first period wasn't as tense, but Foligno got the Wild's attention when he dropped the gloves with Kurtis MacDermid after the puck dropped — a much more assertive start after the Wild slumped 2-1 to the Kings on Tuesday.
"It was just something that maybe individually I took upon myself," Foligno said. "We just needed some energy."
In his best game with the Wild, Marcus Johansson got the ball rolling, throwing a puck on net from the point that eluded Quick at 3:33.
Fiala doubled the lead at 8:17, capitalizing on a breakaway that started when he blocked a shot in the Wild's end. It was his third goal in his past four games.
And then at 12:55, rookie Kirill Kaprizov finished off a smooth pass from Johansson for his second goal of the season and first since his overtime winner in Game 1 vs. the Kings.
This surge came amid a reshuffled lineup, with Joel Eriksson Ek's promotion to the Johansson-Kaprizov tandem one of the most notable changes.
Eriksson Ek continued his impressive play in this spot, putting back his own rebound 4:44 into the third for his team-leading fifth goal.
By this point, the Kings were missing Roy and Sean Walker, who took a Dumba shot to the face early in the third — leaving a trail of blood in his wake.
Still, Los Angeles continued to press and Alex Iafallo finalized a 5-3 outcome on a one-timer 9:41 into the third. But the Wild was too far ahead by then, the reward of a strong first and gut-check second.