Wins have come in a variety of ways this season for the Wild.
The team has persevered in overtime and a shootout, rallied late and pulled away early.
But the group’s latest success story was unlike all the others, as the Wild upended the Senators 3-1 on Monday night at Xcel Energy Center after breaking from its normal routine.
Instead of having players assembled two hours before puck drop, some scrambled in minutes before the pregame warm-up — the reality of getting stuck in traffic while some parts of the Twin Cities were pelted with more than a foot of snow.
“You’re just like a kid,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “You show up; parents were running late at work or something. You gotta step out and play. We did a good job of it.”
While all healthy players took to the ice for the skate about a half-hour before the game, the head count wasn’t at full strength much earlier.
Dumba, his defensive partner Jonas Brodin and winger Tyler Ennis arrived 10 minutes before the Wild took its preparation laps. Their commute was 2 ½ hours, 30 minutes of which was spent stuck behind a bus.
“You’re getting text messages from other guys, saying they’re getting to the rink, and I haven’t left downtown, haven’t even gotten three blocks from my place yet,” Dumba said. “It was nuts.”
His caravan with Brodin and Ennis remained together, and the trio eventually received a police escort in St. Paul. But Brodin got separated from the group and after Dumba stopped to alert the police officer, Dumba’s vehicle was rear-ended by Ennis’ vehicle.
“So we made it like 2 hours and 30 minutes on the road without a crash, then we had one right on the intersection of 7th Street,” Dumba said. “So we gotta go check the cars. We didn’t even really have time. We just ran in.”
Many of the players with unusual drives had significant impacts on the result.
Dumba set up winger Mikael Granlund, who showed up at the rink around 6 p.m., for a key insurance goal in the third period. Winger Jason Zucker, who made a two-hour odyssey from Edina and arrived at the arena at 5:30 p.m., scored the game-winner.
“Guys were just kind of throwing gear on, getting dressed and going,” Zucker said.
And winger Daniel Winnik, who assisted on the team’s first goal, was able to make it to Xcel Energy Center at 4:50 p.m. after parking his car a block away and walking.
“Should have went with my gut instinct to go into the interior of the city and just valeted it at Saint Paul Hotel and then just walked,” he said.
Although coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t tell players to leave earlier than usual amid the blizzard-like conditions, the team did offer players the option after the morning skate to stay at a hotel for the day.
“They all thought they were big and brave and could make it to the game,” Boudreau said.
Still, he figured everyone would show up eventually, and as long as he had their names listed on the official score sheet, they would have been eligible to play once they arrived.
And when they did, the Wild did what it’s done all season: overcome adversity to remain competitive.
“Sometimes you need that,” said goalie Alex Stalock, who was on time before posting a 37-save effort. “The monotony of showing up to the rink the same time every day, to break it up, and guys are kind of wheeling in whenever, it keeps it light in here. Sometimes you need that and a change of pace, and I think it helped [Monday].”