By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Win or play golf. It’s that simple for the Minnesota Wild heading into Winnipeg Friday night. They understand that, and they have to relish that.

What the Wild want to turn around is the start — as in Winnipeg scoring first. It’s been the trend.

“It’s going to be huge to get that first goal, but at the end of the day we know how hungry we’re going to be in the first 10 minutes, so as long as we’re going to be good in the first 10 we’re going to go from there and take it period as period as period, then we’ll see what’s going to happen after the game,” Nino Niederreiter said.

They are a beat-up team physically. They cannot afford to be emotionally. Not now.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. A lot of adversity, tons of injuries that still are coming now. That’s playoffs, it’s a grind, it happens. Every team goes through it, it’s how you respond to it,” Charlie Coyle said.

The Wild have endured the blow of losing a key player. That can’t be an excuse — not this time of year.

“All that matters is the next one. We miss Zach, that’s for sure, but at the same time, we have enough in this room to play some good hockey,” Mikko Koivu said.

It means opportunity for others. Opportunity without excuses.

“You cannot use an excuse, ‘Well, I haven’t played in a while.’ That, to me, is a crock,” Bruce Boudreau said. “You’re getting your opportunity, every chance you get you’ve got to make the best of it, and that’s just the way it is.”

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