Jason Pominville looks reborn.
The Wild veteran, whose on-ice struggles this season have been well documented, scored for a third consecutive game during Sunday’s 6-1 victory over Chicago at TCF Bank Stadium. Pominville has six points in the past three games after having two in the previous 23.
Besides the fact he’s on a red-hot line with Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter — a line John Torchetti also trusted Sunday to go head-to-head against NHL leading scorer Patrick Kane’s line — Pominville is one of 13 Wild to have scored 21 goals in Torchetti’s four games, all wins.
“I think Torch has definitely stepped in and gave us freedom to make more plays offensively and came in with new ideas and created a spark for our team,” Pominville said.
Asked what he meant by freedom, Pominville said Torchetti, an offensive-minded coach as long as you’re playing “the right way without the puck,” has “given us the green light to make plays offensively, whether you’re behind the net in the offensive zone, you can make plays as long as you come back and defend. Even though you’re 200 feet from your net, you should have time to get back and recover from it.”
Torchetti has made adjustments to Pominville’s game. The coach wants Pominville always in a one-time position, but he has gotten closer to the net, especially on the power play. His three recent goals all have been snipes from between the circles.
“I’ve played in different positions this year, positions that, to be honest with you, I’ve never really played,” said Pominville, who was oddly the Wild’s net-front guy on the power play early this season.
Pominville’s longtime Buffalo sidekick Thomas Vanek also has goals in consecutive games after scoring five since Dec. 1.
Torchetti noted Vanek has 123 power-play goals since 2005-06, the second most in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin.
“This isn’t a secret he can score goals,” Torchetti said. “Pominville’s scored before, Vanek has scored before. So just work with them a little bit on the side, 1-on-1, just trying to create that feeling that we’re going to count on you. And those are the guys that if they build that confidence moving forward, they should be really good quick fixes, because they’ve done it before.
“It’s not like I’m taking a guy that’s only averaged maybe five goals a year.”
Zucker helped off
Wild winger Jason Zucker, who has a history of concussions, was lost late in the second period after being checked in the face by Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival.
Zucker, whose helmet smacked into the ice, stayed down several moments before being helped off under his own power, and he is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Rozsival was assessed a five-minute interference major and game misconduct.
What’s the difference?
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Sunday’s Stadium Series game was “everything we hoped for, including an overcast sky,” a reference to the fact that direct sunlight can cause ice problems.
Asked if a Winter Classic on New Year’s Day could be on the horizon in Minnesota, Bettman said: “I think too much is made of the difference between the Winter Classic and the [Stadium Series] game. I think if you asked the 50,000-plus people here today, they couldn’t tell you the difference. They’re just having a great time being here.”
• Defenseman Jonas Brodin missed his eighth game because of a broken foot, but Sunday’s was the most painful. “I looked forward to the outdoor game since they announced it would be here,” Brodin said. Brodin, though, said he is feeling much better and hopes to skate in a few days. “I’ll be back soon,” he said.
• Defenseman Nate Prosser and left wing Chris Porter were scratched.