ANAHEIM, Calif. – Wild coach Dean Evason realized he was underutilizing the Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno line after two periods during Game 2.
"This is ridiculous," he said at the time. "We got to get them on the bloody ice."
Not only did the trio respond that night in the third period, scoring a critical goal in the team's 4-3 overtime comeback against the Kings, but it remained a factor.
And on Wednesday, two-thirds of the line delivered again – combining for the go-ahead goal in the third period to push the Wild to a 3-2 win over the Ducks at Honda Center.
The Wild finished its season-opening four-game road trip at 3-1 and in each of those victories, the third line contributed a vital third-period goal.
"We definitely feel that all three can score," Evason said. "We are very comfortable having them in every situation."
Eriksson Ek was the offensive difference maker Wednesday, burying a pass from Greenway after Greenway received the puck from Kirill Kaprizov. The rookie was on the ice instead of Foligno because Kaprizov had yet to go for a line change.
The goal was the second point of the game for Eriksson Ek and overall, the line has seven points – tops among all four forward units.
"They are really good defensively, but they are so heavy that they are going to get opportunities to score," Evason said.
After four games, the Wild's point leader is Kaprizov with five (one goal and four assists).
Kaprizov was pegged to be an offensive starter, but so were wingers Kevin Fiala and Zach Parise. Neither, however, earned a point on the trip.
"There's some guys that haven't got points, but we have points and that's the key," Evason said. "We have points as a team, and everybody's buying into that and we have to continue to do that. We know people are going to have success individually scoring goals, and we know our power play is going to score. But the most important thing is the end result of the team."
The Wild's power play did finally capitalize Wednesday, snapping a 0-for-18 start to the season.
And it was a fluky play that ended the drought, with center Nick Bonino connecting on a bouncing puck soon after a faceoff.
"It was nice to crack that first one of the year," said winger Ryan Hartman, who supplied a shorthanded goal to open the scoring in the first period. "We were kind of snake-bitten a little bit. So, it was good for the power play's confidence to sneak one in there."
The night was also a success for defenseman Ian Cole, who made his team debut after getting acquired in a Tuesday trade that sent Greg Pateryn to Colorado.
Cole played 17:31, dished out three hits and blocked two shots – all while blending in to the Wild's lineup, which is exactly what the no-nonsense defender was expected to do.
"Really calm," Evason summed up. "Plays tape to tape. Yes, he's heavy. He's hard to play against. He's gritty. But it was nice to see him exiting the zone with sound passes coming out. You don't win two Stanley Cups and you don't play as long as he does and as well as he does without having the full package, and we saw the start of it here tonight."