Even after failing to hold a late lead on Tuesday, Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo was still happy with how his team played, saying the Wild resembled the club that was atop the NHL standings a month ago.
Minnesota will need the same type of effort this evening as it tangles with a hosting Chicago Blackhawks squad that is currently near the top of the standings and is looking to get on track after halting its longest losing streak of the season.
The Wild owned a seven-game win streak and a league-leading 43 points on Dec. 10, but have gone just 2-8-3 since and sit in a tie for sixth in the Western Conference. They have also fallen seven points behind Vancouver for first place in the Northwest Division.
Minnesota notched that second victory on Tuesday against San Jose despite coughing up a two-goal lead late in the third when the Sharks scored twice only 22 seconds apart. The Wild were able to escape with a 5-4 victory after Matt Cullen and Mikko Koivu scored in the shootout and Josh Harding stopped both skaters he faced.
"We let them get back into it tonight and we never want to do that," said Cullen. "But we're able to get the extra point in overtime. It was nice to get the winner on this night."
Yeo said after the game that he could have focused on the Wild's collapse late in regulation, but instead opted to point out how well his team played against a tough club like the Sharks.
"I think you could see the fight that we had right from the start of the game, and to keep fighting and battle through what we did in the game, that was the team we were three weeks ago," said Yeo.
The Wild head coach also made the decision to scratch forward Devin Setoguchi after he violated a team rule. Setoguchi is likely to return tonight as Minnesota opens a four-game swing looking to snap a seven-game slide as the guest.
The Blackhawks take the ice after stopping a four-game slide on Tuesday with a 5-2 win over the Blue Jackets. Viktor Stalberg continued his personal assault on Columbus with his first career hat trick, giving him seven goals in four games versus the franchise this year.
"Great feeling obviously. Some guys have to wait a long time to get one, but I have to thank my teammates for helping me cash in," Stalberg said of his milestone. "Maybe I should get the Players' Association to have a few more games a year against these guys. Seems like we bring it each time we play."
Dave Bolland and Ben Smith also provided tallies for the Blackhawks, who got 32 saves from Corey Crawford and sit in a tie with the Blues for the top spot in the Central Division. Their 55 points have the 'Hawks two back of the Canucks for the most in the West.
Chicago played without Patrick Sharp, who suffered a broken left wrist on Sunday and is expected to be out 3-to-4 weeks.
The Blackhawks, who wrap a four-game homestand, have won three straight and five of their last six versus the Wild. That includes a 4-3 shootout decision at Minnesota on Dec. 14 in the first of four encounters this year. Jonathan Toews had a goal and assist in regulation before notching the shootout winner.
Cullen scored in regulation but came up empty on his shootout try for the Wild, who have lost three of their last four in Chicago.