Take the midway point of Thursday night’s game at Verizon Center. The crowd was thin and subdued, no doubt distracted by a certain football team’s appearance in Minnesota. The visiting — not to mention frustrating — Minnesota Wild led by a goal and had outshot the Washington Capitals by a three-to-one margin. From that point, the Capitals’ longest winning streak of the year seemed as if it would have to come at another time.

What happened over those final 30 minutes, though, could buoy this group. No one in a red sweater claimed what became a 3-2 shootout victory was Washington’s best effort — as they had just two nights earlier in a win over the New York Islanders. But they ground out a game-tying goal from Marcus Johansson with just more than three minutes remaining, got a staunch penalty kill that straddled regulation and overtime, used goaltender Braden Holtby as a backbone and won it when Nicklas Backstrom buried the only goal of the shootout.

So in that stretch, the Capitals’ visage heading into a difficult weekend trip — first to Phoenix, then to Colorado — changed. They have won four games in a row, their most in this young season, and swept a three-game homestand. The turnaround from that massive lull in the second period resulted in a trickle of something that has been difficult to find thus far: confidence.

“It’s getting there,” said Holtby, who saved 33 of 35 shots in regulation and overtime, then didn’t allow a goal in the shootout. “You can tell just by the way the guys are playing. It’s coming. We obviously aren’t too cocky in here, but I think we’re a group that believes in ourselves and thinks we can win a ton of games.”

If that proves true, they will have to win some like they did Thursday, when they didn’t play their best against a Minnesota team that is almost designed to produce plodding efforts. The Wild, backed by goalie Josh Harding — who leads the league in save percentage and goals against average — make it supremely difficult to get shots to the net. When they do get through, Harding usually responds.

So after the Capitals scored their opening goal in the usual fashion — a power-play blast from Alex Ovechkin, his third on the man advantage in the past two games — Washington looked stagnant. By the end of the first, the Wild had tied it up with a power-play goal of its own, and then the Capitals just shrank. Midway through the second, the Wild had 18 shots. The Capitals had six.