When two players crashed into him on Tuesday, Devan Dubnyk said it felt like he “got hit with a bullet.’’ Friday, the Wild goaltender felt like he dodged one.
Dubnyk returned to practice at Tria Rink, three days after he was upended during a 3-0 victory over Edmonton. The collision with teammate Ryan Donato and the Oilers’ Brandon Manning — who got tangled up and slid into Dubnyk — left him with pain in his side but without serious injury. It’s uncertain whether Dubnyk will be cleared to play Saturday against Los Angeles at Xcel Energy Center; it “might make more sense,’’ he said, to wait until the Wild’s schedule resumes Tuesday at Dallas.
After the second-period incident, Dubnyk quickly realized he couldn’t move laterally. He left the game and was replaced by Alex Stalock, who completed the shutout.
“When I was on my hands and knees, I almost couldn’t straighten myself up,” Dubnyk said. “A lot of thoughts go through your head. You start thinking about something bad that could be long-term.
“It’s nice the way it’s recovered. I’m sure within a day or two now, it will be completely gone and back to normal.”
Dubnyk said he might have tried to jump over Donato and Manning if there had been time to react. When they barreled into the net, they cut his feet out from under him, causing him to fall hard.
He hit his head on the ice, too. Though the Wild had Dubnyk go through concussion protocol, he said that impact looked worse than it was and is not a concern.
Donato said he apologized to Dubnyk and was relieved to see him back at practice.
“I wish I could have gotten out of the way, so he didn’t get hit,” Donato said. “I was just trying to make a hard play. He understands that.”
Should Donato wish to make it up to him, Dubnyk had a suggestion.
“Maybe,” he said, “he can just not hit me with a few pucks in practice.”
Eriksson Ek back?
Joel Eriksson Ek also returned to practice Friday after missing three games because of a lower-body injury. Eriksson Ek was hurt Oct. 17 at Montreal, when he blocked three consecutive slapshots by the Canadiens’ Shea Weber with Montreal on a power play.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t sure whether Eriksson Ek would return to the lineup Saturday, but he said “he looks pretty good out there.” The coach added that forward Ryan Hartman, who did not practice Friday, was taking a “maintenance day.” Hartman was hobbled after blocking a shot during Thursday’s 4-0 loss at Nashville.
Despite the injuries, Boudreau praised his team for being willing to do one of the most painful, gutsy tasks in hockey.
“You have to block shots,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s got our guys hurt a little bit, but that goes to show character.
“I don’t think there’s a coach in the world that doesn’t love it when they see guys selling out for the team. That’s what it’s all about.”
Eriksson Ek wore a walking boot out of the arena following his battering in Montreal. The first two blocks both dropped him to his knees. After getting in front of the third, he returned to the bench and got a bear hug from teammate Matt Dumba.
“You don’t really think about it when you’re out there,’’ Eriksson Ek said. “You just want to help the team as much as you can.”
Boudreau confirmed Friday that forward Jordan Greenway is in concussion protocol. Greenway absorbed a hard hit Tuesday against Edmonton and left the game in the first period. He traveled to Nashville for Thursday’s game but did not play because he felt sick.
While his teammates practiced Friday, Greenway rode an exercise bike at the rink.
“He said he’s feeling pretty good,” Boudreau said. “I anticipate him getting on the ice sooner rather than later.”