The Wild was in meltdown mode just last weekend, getting picked apart during a 9-1 rout by the Blues – the most lopsided loss the Wild has ever suffered.
But since then, the team has done an admirable job of making that game look like an aberration.
After a no-nonsense 5-2 win over Arizona on Wednesday, the Wild had another steady effort Friday when it outlasted the Sharks 3-2 at Xcel Energy Center to give itself a chance to sweep the week on Saturday when the team finishes off a back-to-back against San Jose.
"How we're playing right now is what we need to do to be more successful moving forward night in and night out," goaltender Cam Talbot said. "We haven't had too many breakdowns lately, and last few games I really liked what we've done in the defensive zone. We haven't given up a whole lot. A lot of it's just been from the outside, and it's easier for myself to manage and control those rebounds when I can."
The Sharks opened the scoring on a strong individual effort by Tomas Hertl, whose up-ice rush caught the Wild off-guard. But after that, the team seemed to settle in at 5-on-5. San Jose's second goal was a shorthanded breakaway in the third.
Time actually expired with the Wild hemming the Sharks along the boards.
"We're all buying in together," Joel Eriksson Ek said. "We know what we've got to do. We've got to stay on the right side, be in shooting lanes, helping the goalie to see the puck, and be strong on the puck in the corners. It's going to be really important for us going forward."
What the Wild still can improve is limiting turnovers, especially near the offensive blue line. That's how Kane converted in the third, scoring after Fiala lost control of the puck.
"We want to score," coach Dean Evason said. "We want to be aggressive, but we have to still be on the right side of the opponent and the right side of the puck to not give that up. You know that they're coming, so the puck has to be put into an area where if you do turn it over it's not going to hurt you."
This was another clutch game for the Wild's fourth line, with Nick Bonino and Zach Parise each scoring – including the decisive goal from Parise. Mats Zuccarello had the other goal, another example of the Wild getting contributions from throughout the lineup.
"It's an asset to have the depth," Evason said. "I think every team and every coach wants that, for sure."
The victory didn't change the Wild's station in the West Division; the team remains third with 55 points, but it did gain ground on St. Louis and Arizona – moving 11 ahead of the No.4 Blues and 12 up on the No.5 Coyotes.