Two weeks after being elbowed in the head, veteran winger Jason Pominville returned to the Wild’s lineup Tuesday in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
Pominville, the former Buffalo Sabres captain originally acquired to play on the top line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, started the game on the fourth line with Stephane Veilleux and Torrey Mitchell so coach Mike Yeo could manage his minutes.
The goal was for him to also aid a power play that entered the game against the Blackhawks 0-for-9 in the series.
Tuesday morning, Pominville was cryptic about whether or not he was going to play. Officially, he was a game-time decision. If he had not, Jake Dowell would have played his third playoff game ever.
Pominville is known for his durability. He has played 535 of his team’s 546 regular-season games going back to when he was a healthy scratch twice in late 2005-06. But he had missed the Wild’s first three playoff games.
“It’s been tough not being on the ice in the best time of year. It is not easy,” he said Tuesday morning. “It’s been a tough rehab. A few things have gone different ways.”
Pominville returned to practice the day before the series began but woke up on the morning of Game 1 a week ago not feeling right.
Pominville had not spoken publicly since the April 23 elbow from Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown, who was suspended two games for the infraction.
“Obviously not happy about the hit, but at the same time I know that he’s a guy that plays hard and hits hard,” Pominville said. “I just don’t think the elbows are needed when you try to hit a guy. It’s unfortunate that it happened.”
Said Dowell: “I’ll just have to stay ready.”
Heatley skating hard
Tired of lifting weights and biking for two weeks, Dany Heatley, who underwent shoulder surgery April 8, has been skating daily for conditioning and shooting pucks.
“It’s coming,” he said of his strength. “Obviously I’m not ready right now. … It’s hard. I’ve never really watched a series.”
Asked if there’s a chance he can return if the Wild advances in the playoffs, Heatley said, “I’m not going to speculate on that. It’s really a clichéd day-by-day, week-by-week thing.”
• Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith arrived in Minnesota in time to play after spending Monday night in Chicago. His wife gave first to their first child, a boy, Tuesday morning.
• The time for Thursday’s Game 5 in Chicago has been set for 8:30 p.m. It can be seen locally on Fox Sports North.
• The Wild recalled forwards Zack Phillips, Justin Fontaine, Brett Bulmer and Chad Rau, defenseman Kyle Medvec and goalie Jeff Deslauriers.
• Defenseman Clayton Stoner (upper body) missed his third game, center Zenon Konopka (broken foot) missed his second and left wing Mike Rupp (knee) missed his first. Defensemen Nate Prosser and Brett Clark were scratched.
• Niklas Backstrom (lower body) is getting closer to playing, so close that he put on pads and served as the backup after Darcy Kuemper had to replace Josh Harding. Harding appeared to injure his left leg near the end of the first period.
• Blackhawks agitator Dan Carcillo made his series debut. Brandon Bollig was scratched.