GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Marcus Foligno from three seasons ago and today's incarnation might not recognize each other.
Back then, when he was just starting out with the Wild, Foligno's responsibilities fit into one of the "-er" categories typically assigned to depth players.
Grinder. Checker. Penalty killer.
But now, he checks all those boxes and more as an all-purpose specialist that reinforces the Wild's lineup.
"I'm at a time in my career where I feel really good," Foligno said. "I feel confident about my game, and I know what to expect from myself every night."
Foligno is driving the Wild offense so far on this four-game road trip, which resumes Friday with the first of two in a row at Arizona.
He scored twice and added an assist Monday in the 5-4 overtime loss to Vegas, with his three points tying the franchise record for the most in a single period. And he followed that by burying the team's lone goal Wednesday when the Golden Knights completed the sweep 5-1; it was the first time this season the Wild dropped both games in a two-game series.
In Wednesday's action, Foligno's tally drew the Wild within one goal of Vegas. He has a knack for meaningful finishes; three of his other goals have either been a game-winner, go-ahead goal or tied the score.
Overall, Foligno has seven goals and five assists for 12 points; only center Joel Eriksson Ek has more goals (eight), and Foligno trails just rookie Kirill Kaprizov (17) and winger Jordan Greenway (15) in points.
"Just playing simple and straight lines," said Foligno, who is on pace to surpass the career-high 13 goals he scored during his final season with Buffalo in 2016-17 before joining the Wild via trade. "It's something that I want to continue for this team. If we have me scoring on a nightly basis, we're going to be doing all right."
This surge in scoring is just one way, though, that Foligno has expanded his role.
The 29-year-old is also getting occasional looks on the power play, a change that makes him a special-teams dual threat since he continues to be a pesky penalty killer. And he keeps revealing more of his leadership skills — all the while still finishing his checks and holding the opposition accountable.
When the Wild scratched Zach Parise on Wednesday for his extended shift gaffe near the end of Monday's game, Foligno was the one who stepped in as the other alternate captain.
"Majority of the time he's successful regardless if the point production is there," coach Dean Evason said of Foligno, who already this season has a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, assist and fight Feb.22 at San Jose. "He's physical. He gets in on the forecheck. He kills penalties for us, blocks shots, sticks up physically for his teammates. If he keeps things simple, does what he does as far as getting in on the forecheck, getting physically involved in hockey games, then those offensive opportunities produce themselves and he has enough skill — clearly a lot of skill — to produce after that."
Being embedded into so many aspects of the Wild's scheme helps explain why the team wanted to keep Foligno around, signing him to a three-year, $9.3 million contract extension in January that kicks in next season.
Foligno hasn't wasted any time showcasing his value, with a few more "-er" titles like scorer and leader now describing his style.
"I'm comfortable right now and … not complacent," Foligno said, "and just wanting to continue this kind of growth of this season so far."