The scoresheet from the Wild’s 5-4 overtime loss to Columbus showed that the fourth line, made up of three players recalled late Friday from Iowa, didn’t see much ice time. Afterward, coach Bruce Boudreau was second-guessing himself.
“It wasn’t the kids that made all the mistakes,’’ Boudreau said. “I should have actually played them more, but when (Columbus) stopped playing its fourth line, I sort of stopped playing mine.’’
The line of Landon Ferraro, Zack Mitchell and Christoph Bertschy scored one goal, and all three players were plus-one. Only two other players—defensemen Gustav Olofsson and Kyle Quincey—finished on the plus side after the Wild coughed up a two-goal lead in the third period of its home opener. The statistics were much uglier for some of the Wild’s more prominent names.
Ryan Suter had two assists but was on the ice for four Blue Jackets goals. Eric Staal, who scored the Wild’s first goal, was on the ice for Columbus’s three unanswered goals in the third period and overtime. Jared Spurgeon (minus-3) also was part of a Wild defense that simply didn’t hold up.
“It was a tough way to lose, especially against a team that played (Friday night),’’ said Tyler Ennis, whose two power-play scores were his first goals for the Wild. “We’ve got to clean some things up.’’
The Wild doesn’t play again until a road trip Friday and Saturday to Winnipeg and Calgary. With that long break, Ferraro, Mitchell, Bertschy and Luke Kunin—also recalled Friday as the Wild replenished an injury-riddled roster—were reassigned to Iowa after Saturday’s game for salary-cap reasons.
Defenseman Mike Reilly, sent to Iowa on Friday, was recalled after Saturday’s loss. Reilly played Saturday for Iowa and scored a goal in a 7-4 loss at Rockford.
--Kunin finished his first NHL game with 13:53 of ice time and one hit, and he was minus-1. He played right wing on a line with center Matt Cullen and left wing Daniel Winnik.
Kunin had a number of relatives and friends at the game, including his parents and brother. His girlfriend Sophia Shaver, a Wayzata native who plays hockey at Wisconsin, planned to come to Xcel after scoring the winning goal for the top-ranked Badgers in a 3-2 victory at Minnesota State Mankato on Saturday afternoon.
“You never want to lose, especially your first game,’’ Kunin said. “But it’s a dream come true and a game I’ll never forget.
“I think it was way more intense, even faster than the preseason. I felt good as the game went on and felt like my legs got under me.’’
--If you were among the fans who began screaming when Ferraro’s shot sneaked through Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, you get some credit for helping the winger score in the second period. Ferraro thought Bobrovsky had gathered up the puck after it hit him in the stomach. So did the goalie. Neither knew it was sitting behind Bobrovsky in the blue paint, on its edge, until the crowd screamed.
Ferraro dived toward the puck and shoved it over the goal line, despite being tackled by a Columbus player.
“It was 100 percent (the crowd noise),’’ Ferraro said, when asked how he knew the puck was loose. “Just hearing them get excited, I knew it had to be on the other side. I tried to lay out for it and get as much on it as I could.’’
The goal was Ferraro’s first since his comeback from torn knee ligaments, sustained while playing for Chicago of the AHL, that caused him to miss most of last season.
--The Wild is now 14-0-3 in home openers at Xcel.