Wild coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t give himself a pat on the back, but he sure made the right decisions when it came to assembling his lineup Thursday.
He subbed in winger Chris Stewart, defenseman Mike Reilly and backup goalie Alex Stalock, and all played key roles in a 4-2 win over the Devils at Prudential Center – the Wild’s second on a three-game trip that concludes Friday at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers and third road win overall.
“We got a lot of guys in the same way, so there’s no reason sometimes that one guys sits out for another guy because you’re a team of 22,” Boudreau said. “We play it as a team of 22 right now. That’s what happens.”
Stewart scored the game-winning off a two-on-one rush in the second period, the team’s third goal that wiped out a two-goal deficit. His line, with center Joel Eriksson Ek and winger Daniel Winnik, was solid all game and responsible for two goals; Eriksson Ek scored just 39 seconds before Stewart when he slid in a puck that reached the front of the net after a strong effort by Winnik to cut to the middle.
“I thought about pulling up, but I felt like I had body position and I saw Eker beat his guy to the net and did a great job just putting his stick on the ice,” Winnik said. “I tried to get it over there for him."
Reilly stoked the comeback when he converted the Wild’s first goal on a seeing-eye shot earlier in the second. Add in 38 saves by Stalock, who was making his first start in almost three weeks, and the Wild certainly found the right formula to ensure this road trip is a success.
“He’s got a good feel for the game,” Stewart said of Boudreau. “He’s a players’ coach, and he knows what’s going on out there.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s win over the Devils.
- After snapping his 50-game slump Monday in the 5-3 win over the Islanders, Eriksson Ek scored another goal Thursday.
It marked the first time in his career he’s scored in consecutive games.
“You get that goose egg broken here – he’s not going to be a 50-goal scorer – but at the same time, like he did last year, he’s going to chip in an awful lot more now I think,” Boudreau said.
Prudential Center seems to suit Eriksson Ek. He also scored his first career goal in New Jersey in his NHL debut.
"Maybe I can keep that going next time," he said.
- Defenseman Nick Seeler continues to impress with his play in his own end.
He logged 18 minutes, 40 seconds – the most since he debuted earlier this month – and remained on the second pairing next to Jared Spurgeon, who missed a chunk of the second period after getting cut in the mouth but returned for the third.
“You look at the Islanders game, too, he was playing top-four minutes most of the game,” Stalock said. “Conditioning with that kid isn't an issue. He's in unbelievable shape. He's strong. He's tough. He's playing great for us. The way he plays guys are going to start thinking twice about going to the front of the net.”
This was a memorable game for Seeler for another reason, as he tallied his first career point – an assist on Stewart’s goal.
“When you play with confidence, you play better. I mean, you’re not worried about making a mistake and sitting on the end of the bench," Boudreau said. "That’s what’s happening to him right now.”
- Despite a stout showing by Stalock, No.1 Devan Dubnyk will get the start Friday against the Rangers, Boudreau said.