In what seems like eons ago, the Wild defeated Chicago in their last game before the All-Star Break. It was an impressive victory in that the squad weathered an early storm in the first period after scoring first; they escaped the period down 2-1, and then took over and went on to win 4-2. In the following days that game had been called "the signature win of the season". I can see why, they bent but didn't break at first, and then controlled play and ended up beating the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in their own barn. Really, it was a good win, and a nice win to ride into the entirely-too-long break.
I had written earlier in the week that Minnesota tended to struggle with breaks in the schedule, as a handful (nevermind the overstatement) of multi-game win streaks met their untimely demise at the hands of small gaps in the schedule- whatever may be the cause, the momentum, the steam, the proverbial mojo disappears when it comes time to play again. Now I'm well aware that there wasn't a win streak per se at stake; but the Wild had been rolling along at a nice clip, and still was in it at the loss in San Jose. But clearly that spark was there; and again we're at the mercy of a break.
This to me is what made the game against Los Angeles on Tuesday night that much more impressive; despite what was clearly some rust on both sides early, the Wild really ramped up their play as the game went on, but more importantly they won in the shootout.
This is important- because, well, the Wild have been putrid in the shootout all year. To me though there was a vibe to it; I seemed to get a sense, especially from Niklas Backstrom, that this shootout jinx had to end- the second point is so important now at this time of the season, that it has to be by any means necessary. And if that means going to a shootout, so be it. We all know how it ended; a fumbled puck here that ended in a goal, a crazy toe save there, a stuffed King attempt, and there's two points.
While the Blackhawks game is sexy by nature, I look at the Kings tilt as a potential jumping off point for the Wild; a shootout win at home, in a game where no goals where scored.