The weather might have been dreary Thursday, but the Wild came home with a much sunnier disposition after Wednesday's 2-0 victory in St. Louis. The team flew back Thursday morning and got the day off following a win that pushed the best-of-seven series to a Game 5.
There is, of course, much work left to do to dig out of what is now a 3-1 hole. But a shutout from goaltender Devan Dubnyk and timely goals from Charlie Coyle and Martin Hanzal gave the Wild the opportunity to play at home again, with Game 5 on Saturday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center. Coach Bruce Boudreau met with the media shortly after the team plane landed at noon, and he said the Wild must be even better to keep the series going.
Boudreau described the Wild as "pretty determined'' in Game 4. Asked if he thought a victory was "inevitable'' given the way the Wild had played in the series, he said no, but he noted the Wild did everything it needed to get that result.
"We were hoping that if we kept playing with passion, and the will and want that we needed, that we would be involved in the game (and had) a chance to be successful,'' he said. "(The mood is) a lot happier than the mood the night before. It's like everything in this business. It's all about winning and losing.
"I don't think we have everybody playing at the top of their game. I think there's still room to get better, and if you want to prolong the series, you have to get better. And we have to have 20 guys getting better, not 14 or 15. ... If you stay status quo, people pass you by. That's why (the Stanley Cup) is so hard to win. You've got to be at the top of your game for as many as 28 games after the season.''
Other notes from Boudreau's session:
--Asked about the status of injured forward Erik Haula, Boudreau said, "I'm hoping he's available'' for Game 5. Still no word on exactly what is wrong with Haula, who sat out Game 4 as well as practices before Games 3 and 4. Haula took a beating in Game 2 with hard hits from Scottie Upshall and Alex Pietrangelo.
--Speaking of Pietrangelo's moments as a human wrecking ball in the series, Boudreau was perturbed when the Blues defenseman blasted Zach Parise near the end of Game 4. Parise didn't seem to be injured--in fact, he took a retaliatory poke at Pietrangelo--but Boudreau didn't appreciate the hit.
"I thought it was cheap,'' he said. "They knew the game was over. There was one second left. If this was 1984 or 1978, that guy would have had a stick right in his face. But they don't do that any more.''
--On Dubnyk, who stopped 28 shots for his first shutout since Dec. 20: "There's been a lot of criticism in the last six weeks, and he's gotten a lot of it. So to see him stand in there and keep battling like the pro he is was really good. Again, like everybody else, we can't rest on our laurels. We've won one game. They've still got three. We've got to go out and play better again (Saturday).''
--On whether the Wild had "gotten under the armor'' of Blues goalie Jake Allen: "No. He's got a 1.17 goals-against average. I don't think we're under any armor whatsoever.''
--Though the Wild had another good night in the faceoff circle, winning 51 percent of draws, Boudreau griped that the officials were too quick to give Wild centers the hook. The Wild is winning 58 percent of faceoffs in the series (164 of 283), best of any team in the playoffs.
"(They were) kicking our centermen out every second time,'' he said. "I think it was seven to one that they kicked out, and looking at the video, there was no reason for that. When you have possession of the puck to start the plays off, it's so much more of an advantage.''
--On scoring first: "For us, it was not your average normal goal. To get a lead when you hadn't had one, and it's so tough to get one to crawl back, I think it was a little bit of relief for the players. It's something that I know St. Louis is really going to pounce on, to try to deny us that, which is why the first period on Saturday will be so important.''
--And a compliment, sort of, for Coyle, whom Russo will be featuring in a Friday story: "When he wants to play, he can play. He's been a good player.''