Wild coach Bruce Boudreau promised he wasn’t reading too deep into his team’s offensive woes after scoring two goals in two games.
“I hope they’re not gripping the stick too tight after Game 2,” Boudreau said earlier this week. “It’s important to keep the spirits up.”
Still, the 63-year-old coach admitted there was a sense of urgency amid a 0-1-1 start and it was exacerbated by the fact the rival Chicago Blackhawks were in town.
You can’t win the Stanley Cup in mid-October. You can fall out of contention for it.
“It’s not like a panic,” Boudreau said before Thursday’s game. “It’s just that we want to be on the right side of the score and feeling good about ourselves. We have that opportunity to rectify it tonight even though we’re playing a team that’s historically given us a lot of trouble.”
While the Wild still had their fair share of trouble on this particular night, they managed to escape with a 4-3 overtime win over the Blackhawks.
Jason Zucker, who was undoubtedly the team’s best player all night, fittingly scored the game-winning goal with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in overtime.
Besides the win, perhaps the best thing to come out of the matchup was the fact that the Wild now know they can score more than one goal in a game.
“We are trying to see the color of the goalie’s eyes before we shoot it,” Boudreau lamented before Thursday’s game. “Once we get in the shooting area we have to shoot and we have to go to the net and we have to make it difficult to contain us. That’s how we’re going to score goals.”
After the Wild fell behind in the first period after goals from Blackhawks wingers Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kahun, Devan Dubnyk stood on his head yet again to keep the game from getting out of hand.
His teammates finally rewarded him for his efforts in the second period to tie the game. Eric Staal got the scoring started with a tap-in goal after a picture-perfect pass from Zucker. He later returned the favor with a slick pass in front as Zucker beat the buzzer to end the frame.
That score wouldn’t last long as DeBrincat scored his second goal of the night early in the third period. It looked like the Wild were destined for another loss down the stretch until Ryan Suter tied the game with a shorthanded goal in front with less than 30 second to play.
That set the stage for Zucker to play hero with a breakaway goal in overtime.