When the puck drops sometime after 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild will make its first home playoff appearance in more than three years — April 17, 2018, vs. Winnipeg to be exact — when it faces the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of a first-round series.
You won't see a crowd of 19,000 or more because concerns about the coronavirus pandemic are limiting attendance to 4,500 for this series, though that number could grow if the Wild advances to the second round.
"It would be great if it would be full, but even the 3,000 that we had at the start … it was very vocal, very energetic,'' Wild coach Dean Evason said. "Gave us life, gave us jump, excitement.''
In its playoff history, the Wild has enjoyed its biggest postseason triumphs on the road — Game 7 wins at Colorado and Vancouver in 2003 and Colorado in 2014. Still, there have been many memorable moments at the X in the playoffs, and the Wild will try to add to those on Thursday.
With that in mind, here is one man's opinion of the team's 10 most memorable HOME playoff games, counting down from No. 10 to No. 1:
10. Game 1, 2003 Western Conference final, Anaheim 1, Wild 0, 2OT
Less than 48 hours after beating the Canucks in seven games, the Wild returned home for the opener of the conference final. The drama for this game was high, with the sixth-seeded Wild taking on the seventh-seeded Ducks in a matchup of teams that sprung upsets. Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, wearing a leather sectional masquerading as goalie pads, made 39 saves in this game, including a filthy, diving robbery of Marian Gaborik in the second period. The Ducks' Petr Sykora would win it 8:06 into the second OT.
9. Game 2, 2008 first round, Wild 3, Colorado 2, OT
If you were in line for a beverage or restroom break as overtime began, unlucky you. Keith Carney – yes, Keith Carney – scored 1:14 into the extra session as the Wild evened a series that it would end up losing in six games.
8. Game 6, 2014 first round, Wild 5, Colorado 2
In a back-and-forth series, the Wild drew even with the Avs when Zach Parise broke a 2-2 tie 13:31 into the third and Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella added empty-net goals. It set the stage for the back-and-forth, 5-4 OT win in Game 7.
7. Game 4, 2007 first round, Wild 4, Anaheim 1
Though the Ducks would take the series in five games on their way to winning the Stanley Cup, the image of Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard circling like a shark in front of the Anaheim bench moments after the Ducks' Brad May punched Kim Johnsson will live forever.
6. Game 6, 2014 second round, Chicago 2, Wild 1, OT
Seven years later, the sound still resonates. Chicago's Brent Seabrook fired the puck into the Wild zone, the puck caromed off a metal stanchion, and there was Patrick Kane, Johnny-on-the-spot to put a backhander under the crossbar for the overtime winner and series clincher. That's the closest the Wild has been to advancing to the Western Conference final for a second time.
5. Game 3, 2014 second round, Wild 4, Chicago 0
The Wild fell 5-2 and 4-1 at Chicago to open the series but rebounded as Ilya Bryzgalov had a 19-save shutout and Mikael Granlund scored two goals. Fans started to believe the Wild could compete with the Blackhawks, and a 4-2 Game 4 win confirmed that notion.
4. Game 6, 2015 first round, Wild 4, St. Louis 1
This remains the only time the Wild has clinched a playoff series on home ice. Parise scored twice, and Justin Fontaine and Nino Niederreiter added goals.
3. Game 3, 2014 first round, Wild 1, Colorado 0, OT
Down 2-0 in the series, the Wild got back into it when Granlund's diving goal across the crease 5:08 into overtime ended a goalie duel between Darcy Kuemper and Semyon Varlamov.
2. Game 6, 2003 second round, Wild 5, Vancouver 1
After Vancouver's3-2 overtime win in Game 4 at the X, legend has it that Canucks tough guy Todd Bertuzzi informed Wild fans waiting in line for tickets for an "if necessary'' Game 6 that they were wasting their time. Turns out, he was mistaken, as the Wild hammered the Canucks 7-2 in Game 5, then came home to win 5-1 in Game 6 as Andrew Brunette scored two power-play goals.
1. Game 6, 2003 first round, Wild 3, Colorado 2, OT
Brunette's iconic Game 7 goal in Denver the next night might not have happened if Richard Park doesn't beat Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy 4:22 into overtime in Game 6. The Wild led 2-0 on goals by Park early in the first period and Gaborik in the third before Joe Sakic and Greg DeVries drew Colorado even by scoring at 16:34 and 18:28 of the third.