Their play sputtering and causing the team to fall deeper into a rut, the Wild hoped a trip to Sweden would be a turning point that changed their season.
Maybe it still can be.
Although they didn't win either of their games in the NHL Global Series — a pair of post-regulation defeats stretched their season-long losing streak to five — the Wild accomplished more than two points in Stockholm.
They re-established their identity.
"We've built our game back up a little bit here," winger Marcus Foligno said.
For starters, the results looked more Wild-like.
The losses (2-1 in a shootout to Ottawa on Saturday and 4-3 in overtime to Toronto on Sunday) were evenly contested, one-goal finishes unlike the 8-3 disaster against Dallas right before their flight to Sweden, and what kept the Wild competitive was their defending.
Only one of the goals they surrendered over the weekend came while they were shorthanded, the beleaguered penalty unit rebounding from a five-goal shellacking by the Stars to go a much-improved 5-for-6 by sticking to its structure and toning down the aggressive reaches.
"Guys committed to sacrificing on the penalty kill," Foligno said.
Goaltender Filip Gustavsson had his sharpest performance since a season-opening, 41-save shutout, his 30 stops vs. the Senators the first time he'd finished with a save percentage above .900 since his third start. The Wild have the second-worst goals-against average (4.00) in the NHL.
"If you don't score goals, you better keep it out of the net and for the most part, we have here as of late," coach Dean Evason said. "We have to keep that theme for us and then believe that we'll get on track offensively."
The Wild have only five wins in 17 games, and don't play again until Friday night.
In Sweden, there were some flickers of their offense — they are 18th in the league, averaging 3.12 goals per game — re-igniting.
Center Marco Rossi scored in the first game before setting up a goal in the second. The center is tied for third in rookie scoring with 10 points, and his six goals trail only the nine from Chicago's Connor Bedard.
"Arguably the best player on our hockey club this season," Evason said of Rossi. "He's been consistent."
While they blanked on some bona fide looks, shots from almost can't-miss angles, the Wild did capitalize on the simpler plays: Their third-period, two-goal comeback against the Leafs was a byproduct of getting pucks and traffic to the crease.
"When we get people around the net, we score those gritty goals," Evason said. "But we have to score a few pretty ones, too, when we have that opportunity, and those are the ones that aren't going in."
Kirill Kaprizov went pointless in Sweden and now has one goal in his past five games; his last (and only) even-strength goal was more than a month ago (Oct. 19 vs. Los Angeles).
The winger also hasn't been around the puck as much, registering only one shot against both Dallas and Ottawa before quadrupling that output on Sunday.
"Is Kirill upset that he's not scoring goals? Yeah, of course," Evason said. "He loves to score goals, and he knows that's part of his game and helps his team win hockey games. So, sure, he's disappointed in not doing that. But it's not taking away from the other end of his game.
"He's playing hard, he's physical, he's trying to get to the net, and he's been a positive figure. Would be easy for him to be pouting or negative or woe me or whatever and sulking and whatever else and he's not. He's working, and he's trying to get out of it, which he will."
Until Kaprizov reemerges as the superstar that's led the team the past three seasons, the Wild probably won't truly resemble the Wild.
But their effort in Europe was the closest they've been to being themselves in a while.
That's not nothing: The trip might not have been a slump-buster, but it doesn't have to be a bust.
"November is always a dark time and a tough time hockey-wise," Gustavsson said, "because it doesn't feel like it matters as much. But it's November and early December when the season can really get bad or good. We just need to find those extra points."