Evason breaks up Wild’s top line in another loss. More changes ahead?

Renée Jones Schneider/Star Tribune/TNS

The Wild aren't moving up the standings, what with only one win in their last seven games, but there are some new addresses in their lineup.

Longtime neighbors Kirill Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello were sent to different zip codes during the Wild's latest loss, the beginning of a shakeup that'll continue when the Wild face the high-flying Rangers on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center having dropped a season-high four straight.

"You've got to make some changes," coach Dean Evason said. "You can't be nice all the time."

This split could have happened a while ago.

Through the Wild's first five games, Kaprizov, Hartman and Zuccarello combined for only four goals and were a cumulative minus-11; not only was the line outscored, but they were also outshot by a hefty margin (31-19).

But the three stayed intact, and their next game was their best: Their 10-point performance vs. the Oilers, led by a hat trick and five-point effort from Hartman, galvanized the Wild to a 7-4 comeback.

That was Oct. 24, and the Wild (3-5-2) haven't won since, skidding into a 0-3-1 rut after another rally fizzled 5-3 to New Jersey on Thursday.

"When you're not having success, you can't just continually stay with what you're doing," Evason said. "You've gotta try to do something to shake things up. We're not scoring goals, we're not defending, so you've got to get some different looks."

After collapsing into a 2-0 hole in the first period against the Devils, the Wild scrambled their lines to start the second.

Kaprizov joined Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy, and the trio was responsible for getting the Wild back in the game. Not only did Kaprizov capitalize on the power play to snap a five-game drought, but Boldy set up Rossi for the team's second goal and then the two assisted on Jake Middleton's third-period tally.

"I just try to get open and try to help them, support them wherever I can," said Rossi, whose four goals are tied with the Blackhawks' Connor Bedard for the most among NHL rookies. "Just try to keep going with my game."

Aside from the three totaling five points, they registered seven shots with Rossi's four leading the team, and he remained with Kaprizov and Boldy at an intense, hourlong practice on Friday at Tria Rink in St. Paul.

"He's played great all year," Evason said of Rossi. "He's earned the right to get the ice time that he's getting."

As for Hartman and Zuccarello, they reunited alongside Marcus Johansson while Marcus Foligno teamed up with Joel Eriksson Ek and Pat Maroon.

Rookie Daemon Hunt will draw in on defense vs. a New York team that's won six in a row; Jon Merrill skated as the odd-man-out next to captain Jared Spurgeon, who's still sidelined with an upper-body injury. And there were tweaks to special teams, too.

Notably, Zuccarello was demoted from the first unit, which is now five forwards: Boldy, Eriksson Ek, Johansson, Kaprizov and Rossi. Zuccarello worked with the second group that featured Hartman, Calen Addison, Vinni Lettieri and a rotation of Maroon and Foligno.

Boldy also took reps on the penalty kill, which he's played sparingly this season.

"That's coach's decision," Zuccarello said. "They do what they think is best for the team and then you deal with that. As long as we win games and gives us the best chance to win, that's fine.

"Whatever we've been doing hasn't been working, so shake up the lines and see what happens."

Although his 10 points are tied for the most on the team with Eriksson Ek and Kaprizov, Zuccarello didn't score during the Wild's four-game slide.

Neither did Eriksson Ek and Johansson; Foligno had one goal.

"Obviously, I'd like to create a little bit more and keep the puck out of our net," Zuccarello said. "I feel like every mistake you make keeps biting you in the back."

Such is also the state of the Wild, who aren't getting much of a free pass on their miscues.

Instead, those keep snowballing, sending the Wild deeper into a spiral they haven't been able to stop.

"It's easy to point fingers and yell at each other, but we gotta stick together," Zuccarello said. "It's 10 games. If you miss the playoffs, we can be angry. It's 10 games. We have 72 games to play.

"We need to [have] some positivity, trust each other, believe in each other, and have that swag to make plays. It's a good league. You don't make plays you don't win games. So, we need to get back to that."