The Wild proved it can rebound from a disastrous loss, cleaning up its act to post a 4-2 win over the Golden Knights Thursday at Xcel Energy Center after getting overwhelmed by the Jets 7-2 just three days earlier.
But now the team will have to tackle a different kind of adversity, as defenseman Jared Spurgeon will be sidelined two weeks with a groin strain.
“It is a big loss,” fellow blue liner Matt Dumba said. “You can't take anything away from that. It's Jared Spurgeon. I think he's one of the most underrated guys in the NHL. I see it on a day-to-day basis how good he is. All of us do.
“We have to fill that void. It's all working together and making sure we're focused every game from here on out when we don't have him. And when we do have him, we'll try to incorporate him and get this thing rolling.”
Spurgeon, who has missed the past two games, was an anchor on the team’s top pairing next to Ryan Suter. He averaged 25 minutes, 39 seconds of ice time per game, and paced the team in blocked shots (51).
Dumba took Spurgeon’s spot on the No.1 unit, and the pairing seemed to complement his strengths. He set up center Eric Staal’s game-winning goal and had a team-high six shots in 26:36 of ice time.
Overall, the back end contributed 17 shots on net.
“It was good that we were getting lots of looks and lots of shots on net,” Dumba said.
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s win over the Golden Knights.
- Although the Wild’s defense was better against the Golden Knights, the unit could look differently Saturday against the Blues after the team added Nate Prosser off waivers Thursday – his third stint with the organization.
“We needed a seventh ‘D,’ for sure,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I mean, we can’t go on the West Coast with six ‘D.’ We don’t make that move and somebody gets hurt tonight, we’re going, ‘Wow, now what do we do?’
“But Prosser, it’s easy because Pross is a guy we all know. We know his capabilities. We know his liabilities. We know that he’s going to come in and fit in with the group. I don’t think sometimes teams take into account how much good fits really mean.”
- Goalie Devan Dubnyk made a critical save late in regulation, getting enough of a Jonathan Marchessault shot with his stick after sliding across the crease to keep the puck out.
Dubnyk seemed to get more comfortable as the game progressed and ended up making 29 saves in his first action in five days.
“It just becomes desperation,” Dubnyk said. “It's funny, the play happened and you kind of have a feeling of where everybody is on the ice. To be honest, I didn't even realize we were down under a minute and the net was empty. So the first one came through a bunch of bodies, and I got a toe on it and looked over and was a little bit surprised that there was a guy in a white jersey skating in. Obviously, it was their extra attacker. So I just threw everything out the window and tried to get a piece of it."
- Some credit for Thursday’s bounce-back performance seems to belong to Wednesday’s practice – a reminder of how important it is to bank ice time in between games.
“You kind of lose some things when you're playing so much,” Dumba said. “You're just getting into the routine of that. It's nice to kind of break it up and have a good practice and some hard drills to get back focused on the little things we have to do in the ‘D’ zone to play well. I think we did that.”