ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Wild are saying all the right things, that they’re looking at the small picture, not the big one. That they just need to win tonight and worry about what happens next later. That they were right there in Game 1 and Game 3, a bounce or two away from a very different series. That nothing is over. Not yet.
Of course, everyone says that when they’re down 3-0 in a series. The Wild, however, have reason to believe it. In February and March, they strung together win streaks of six games, five games and five games to do the improbable — go from last place to the playoffs in a span of two months. So who’s to say they can’t win four straight and do the even more improbable — become the fifth team in NHL history to win a series after losing the first three games.
“Yeah, when talking to some of the other guys, that’s kind of the thing,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “When we do get on a roll, we’re a pretty scary team. If we can get a win, get another one, get another one and get that ball rolling, who knows what can happen?”
The confidence the Wild entered the series with has turned into part resignation, part defiance as they prepare for tonight’s Game 4 at XCel Energy Center.
“Nobody’s pretending like we’re in a good situation here,” goaltender Devan Dubnyk said. “But all we can do is win tonight and move forward, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said the challenge of making history and avoiding the sweep is now the motivation.
“I hate the word— I’ve never been swept, and I don’t think our players have,” Yeo said. “That’s pretty motivating in itself.”
“Absolutely,” he said. “We’re too good of a team and we’ve got too much pride in here to have that happen. At the same time, it’s not what we’re thinking about. You don’t go into a game trying not to lose. We’re going in tonight to win this game to give ourselves a chance to come back in the series and we’re not just trying to avoid losing in four, we’re still trying to win the series.”
Dubnyk, whose arrival in mid-January sent the Wild soaring, took solace in the fact that not only have the Wild won in bunches frequently, but they did it while overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.
“Everybody knows we’re in a tough situation,” he said. “But we did a great job down the stretch when it seemed like everybody was winning, and no matter what we did, we couldn’t really gain any ground or get into that playoff spot. And all we could do was worry about winning that game that we had in front of us, and we did that a lot. So I think it’s the perfect thing to draw on for tonight. We win tonight and start over for Saturday. We’re certainly capable of it, the way that we play and how hard we play, and how we play together. We’re more than capable of stringing some games together.”