BOSTON – Center Eric Fehr was sidelined for the Wild’s road trip finale Tuesday against the Bruins at TD Garden, but the team isn’t expecting Fehr to be out long-term after he smacked his head on the top of the boards in front of the Wild’s bench the previous game.
“He’s just sore,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But he’s fine.”
Fehr went down less than three minutes into the 1-0 win over the Canadiens on Monday in Montreal after absorbing a late shoulder check from winger Kenny Agostino that sent Fehr crashing into the boards. He was slow to get up and eventually left the ice with a towel pressed to his head.
The Wild finished the game with only 11 forwards, but it was back to full strength Tuesday. Joel Eriksson Ek replaced Fehr at center on the fourth line after being recalled from the American Hockey League earlier in the day.
Eriksson Ek was assigned to Iowa on Dec. 28 to rebuild his confidence in the offensive zone after managing just a goal and four points through 27 games this season with the Wild. Had Fehr not gotten injured, it’s likely Eriksson Ek still would be on assignment in the minors and it’s unclear if the 21-year-old is back with the Wild for good.
But after tallying four goals and six points amid 20 shots during five games, it certainly looks as if Eriksson Ek fulfilled the mission of the stint; two of his goals were power-play markers, and he also had two game-winners.
“He’s an NHL player to start,” Boudreau said. “We were just hoping that he would find some offense down there. Seems he did. He’s coming up, and he’s not being put in a position to be a great offensive player being on the fourth line. But we just want him to get confident in doing that because we know he can play.”
With defenseman Matt Dumba, who’s out after undergoing surgery to fix a ruptured right pectoralis muscle, on injured reserve, the team didn’t need to make a corresponding move to open a roster spot for Eriksson Ek.
But it did also send defenseman Ryan Murphy to Iowa since the Wild planned to keep Nate Prosser in the lineup and didn’t need an extra option on the blue line.
Murphy played two games with the team after getting called up Jan. 1; Boudreau mentioned the Wild might add another defenseman before its next game Thursday at home against the Winnipeg Jets.
After backstopping the Wild to eight wins that included just one goal-against, netminder Devan Dubnyk finally secured his first shutout of the season Monday and joined elite company in the process.
The effort was the 30th shutout of Dubnyk’s career, and he became one of just 66 goalies in NHL history to reach that milestone. Since being acquired by the Wild Jan. 15, 2015, Dubnyk leads all NHL goaltenders with 21 regular-season shutouts.
“It’s nice to get it,” he said. “It’s kind of weird that it’s been this long. There’s been probably four or five games that I felt like it was going to be and never happened.
“So it’s nice. Shutouts are always nice to get. Winning’s important, and they’re extra special when it’s 1-0 because you really needed it to be a shutout.”
Looking for assists
Mikael Granlund stopped a 15-game goalless drought Monday with his 12th tally of the season and just his second in a 24-game span.
“Obviously, you always want to score but I never consider myself a big goal scorer,” Granlund said.
“You just try to play the game and play hard and try to make plays and create some offense.”
Granlund’s 13.5 shooting percentage is second best on the Wild, but his 89 shots are fifth.
“He’s going to score you 20-25, and hopefully he gets 40-plus assists,” Boudreau said. “That’s what he is. He reads plays really well, but he’s a pass-first guy and not a shoot-first guy.”