Devan Dubnyk started five home openers for the Wild, and the goalie was back on the ice for a sixth straight Friday at Xcel Energy Center.
"Keep the streak going here for one more year," he said.
After six seasons with the Wild, Dubnyk was finally the opposition — the result of an offseason trade that sent the team's No. 1 netminder to San Jose — and he'll have plenty of reunions with his former teammates this season.
Not only will the Wild and Sharks face off again Sunday, but they'll play each other another six times as rivals in the West Division.
"Coming to the rink this morning was certainly strange, just walking the other way around and took a wrong door," Dubnyk said during a pregame video chat with reporters. "Guys were giving me a hard time. I hadn't been on that side of the rink for quite a while."
Despite the trade, Dubnyk is still calling Minnesota home and his wife, Jenn, and their three children have remained in the Twin Cities.
Due to local health regulations in San Jose, the Sharks had to move training camp to Arizona and are in the middle of an eight-game road trip to start the season. It's still unclear if they'll be given the green light to play their home games in San Jose.
"They've stayed here because we've been on the road since Christmas and we don't really know when that's changing," said the 34-year-old Dubnyk, whose family was planning on attending Friday's game. "They're sticking here for now, and we just wait until we have some answers on when we're going back to San Jose and then we'll make a plan from there."
The Wild acquired Dubnyk in 2015, an opportunity he used to solidify himself as a starting goalie in the NHL — going 177-113-28 with a .918 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average. With the Sharks, he's getting a similar chance to recalibrate his career — sharing the net with Martin Jones.
"Devan was a great teammate, a great goaltender for us throughout the years," captain Jared Spurgeon said. "I'm sure for him coming back there's a lot of great memories, and there's a lot of great memories for us, as well. It's exciting to play against a guy like that."
Back at home
Aside from tarps bearing sponsor logos, the Wild draped the State of Hockey Flag over empty rows inside Xcel Energy Center and moved the high school jerseys that are usually on display on the suite level to the seats behind the benches.
The fan cutouts paired with the jerseys are of a student, past or present, from the program.
"The first jersey I saw, I'm not lying, I saw the Blaine jersey, so that was pretty cool," said center Nick Bjugstad, referring to his alma mater. "It's cool they put some heads in there. They're doing their best here with what they can. The crowd noise at the away game helps. I'm sure it'll be the same here at the X, and they'll do a good job."
Bjugstad grew up coming to Xcel Energy Center, to watch the Wild play and get on the ice himself.
The semifinals loss to Eden Prairie at the state tournament in 2009 still stands out, but so does Minnesota's win over North Dakota in 2012 to advance to the Frozen Four.
"That was probably the fondest one," said Bjugstad, whose parents and wife took in Friday's game.
Dubnyk wasn't the only familiar face on the Sharks.
Winger Ryan Donato was also traded to San Jose in the offseason, and he made his return to Xcel Energy Center skating in a top-six role next to Sharks captain Logan Couture — this after Donato conveyed to Wild General Manager Bill Guerin that if he wasn't going to get playing time with the Wild then maybe he could get a change of scenery.
"I'm really excited to have that opportunity and show what I can do with it," Donato said.
After starting Wednesday in Anaheim, Kaapo Kahkonen returned to the bench as the backup against the Sharks with Cam Talbot getting the start.
"You try to treat practice like it's a game," Kahkonen said about staying ready. "You try to stop every puck."