Three weeks ago, the Wild took to the ice in Nashville feeling optimistic to begin a new season.
And on Thursday, the team will carry the same positive vibe into its matchup with the Predators at Bridgestone Arena but for a very different reason.
After slumping into the worst start in franchise history — a flop that kicked off with a 5-2 gut punch from Nashville on Oct. 3 — the Wild has shown signs of improving by winning two in a row, momentum that could validate its turnaround as legit if it continues.
"It feels awesome," defenseman Matt Dumba said. "This team is trending in the right direction after falling on some hard times early. This is the team that we know we had."
The most significant endorsement that the Wild (3-6) is recovering came Tuesday when it blanked the Oilers 3-0 at Xcel Energy.
The team's most convincing performance yet came against an Edmonton squad that had been an impressive 7-1-1.
High-flying forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who have combined for 33 points so far, were non-factors. McDavid registered only two shots on goal, Draisaitl one.
"Obviously, one of the best players in the league on the other side, and he's off to a pretty good start," center Eric Staal said. "So we had a collective effort between [captain Mikko Koivu's] line and [Luke Kunin's line] and then our defense core. They did a phenomenal job against those guys, limiting their time."
Backup Alex Stalock and starter Devan Dubnyk tag-teamed for the shutout, with Stalock making 16 saves in relief after Dubnyk left in the second period after a collision that sent him falling on his back.
How Dubnyk is feeling is unclear; the team did not practice Wednesday ahead of traveling to Nashville. But the Wild did recall goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen from the American Hockey League under emergency conditions and placed winger Kevin Fiala on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury.
Whether winger Jordan Greenway is better is also a mystery. He left Tuesday's game in the first period after a heavy check from the Oilers' Josh Archibald but before then, Greenway had one of his more memorable showings of the season.
He was involved in the Wild's first two goals, getting the puck to the front of the net for Staal to finish before shrugging off an Oilers player behind the net and passing off to the point in the lead-up to Staal's second tally. Greenway recorded his fourth career multipoint game, and he's accumulated five assists in his past five contests.
"He's in beast mode at that point," coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Greenway wasn't the only one to have a breakout night.
Staal was the showstopper, potting his first two goals of the season in his ninth appearance — the latest he'd scored into a season in his career. The longest it'd taken him before this was his sixth game during his rookie season in 2003-04.
Add in an assist Tuesday, and Staal has four points in his past two games.
"Eventually it was going to happen," Boudreau said. "But I think you could see the elevation in his game even from two games ago to last game to this game. It's just been going skyward, so to me it was a matter of time before he did something."
Now the challenge for the entire team is to keep playing this way.
Although the group's potential looked bleak when it sat 1-6, Tuesday's outing gave the Wild evidence it can deliver what was missing early on — clutch contributions courtesy of its offensive leaders and stingy work by its defenders.
"Hopefully going forward this is what we put forth every night," Dumba said.