Friday morning update: As expected, defenseman Nate Prosser has a hearing with the NHL this afternoon regarding his head-butt of Chicago forward Jamal Mayers, sources say. Prosser said the head-butt was unintentional, and coach Mike Yeo said that even though it may look bad, he also knows Nate Prosser and knows he wouldn't intentionally head-butt somebody.
The replay certainly looks bad though. As I wrote, my guess is Chay Genoway is recalled and will make his NHL debut in Saturday's finale vs. Phoenix if Prosser is suspended. I'm told it's very doubtful Clayton Stoner will be able to return.
Devin Setoguchi scored his second shootout winner in three games vs. the Chicago Blackhawks as the Wild rallied from a late 1-0 deficit to beat Chicago. Setoguchi has five shootout goals this year and deserved tonight because he had some tremendous chances through overtime and did everything he could on a few shifts to turn the momentum after a bad start from Minnesota.
The Wild is now 4-0-1 in its past five. Its past five wins have come in overtime or shootouts and six of its last seven.
The Wild has played in five consecutive overtimes for the first time in history and has played in 20 shootouts (11-9), tying Phoenix’s single-season NHL record set in 2009-10.
Cal Clutterbuck scored the tying goal with 3:12 left on a power play when he deflected Marco Scandella’s shot for his 100th career point and first goal since Feb. 26, snapping a 15-game drought. Josh Harding wasn’t beaten by three Chicago shooters and made 22 saves. Remember, he can be a free agent after this season, and with Niklas Backstrom likely making Saturday’s season finale start, this could be it for Harding.
Scandella, who also blocked six shots, skated a career-high 35:32 – the most in the NHL since Chris Pronger skated 35:43 on March 11, 2009. It marked the highest ice time for a rookie since Andrej Meszaros on April 5, 2006, who skated 37:47, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Scandella’s previous high was 31:11, set March 8 in Phoenix. The old franchise record was Brent Burns, who had 33:33 on Jan. 3, 2009, against Detroit.
This will be huge for Scandella going into next season.
“For sure it’s going to make a difference,” he said. “I’m just really happy to be out there in those situations. Tonight was a little more than I’m used to, but it’s really fun.”
Tom Gilbert skated a career-high 34:17, his fifth consecutive game topping the 30-minute mark. Four of his top five games in his career have come since March 8. The Wild now has 42 all-time 30-minute games, and seven of them have been Gilbert, who has played 19 games for the Wild.
Read the game story for their quotes, which were pretty good.
Why’d they play so much? Nate Prosser was booted for head-butting Jamal Mayers late in the first period.
“He pushed me in the stomach and I went forward. It was the most unintentional thing I think I’ve ever done,” Prosser said. “I think he sold it pretty well. He acted like his teeth were knocked out. I felt bad at the time, but then he’s back the next shift.”
If he is suspended, Chay Genoway is likely next on the callup list. If Genoway plays in Saturday’s finale against Phoenix, he’d be the Wild’s 47th player, 16th rookie and ninth to make his NHL debut. Remember, the maximum amount of players on a roster is 23, so the Wild has essentially fielded two teams.
Tyler Cuma was the 46th tonight.
Cuma, 22, nearly made his NHL debut March 8 at Phoenix, but he missed his flight due to limited time between his Vancouver-to-Houston arrival and Houston-to-Phoenix departure.
This time, he got the call at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday for a 5 p.m. flight. He got to the airport around 4 and breezed right through security.
The debut was a long time coming for Cuma, who has been devastated by a plethora of injuries, including three to his left knee, since the Wild chose him 23rd overall in 2008. Scandella, a second-round pick in the same draft, has catapulted past him on the depth chart.
“I was flying down the highway making sure I didn’t miss this flight this time around,” Cuma said. “With the last couple years the way things have gone for myself, fortunately so far this year I’ve had a full season down in the AHL. I’ve played a lot of games in a lot of different situations to get me ready for this. I’ve been waiting for this call for a long time.”
Cuma, other than a tough first shift and a delay-of-game penalty, moved the puck well and nearly scored on his third shift. He played 11:09.
“It’s tough seeing guys go up [to Minnesota] around you, but you’ve got to battle the ups and downs of the game,” Cuma said. “Injuries happen and things don’t go exactly the way you planned. My time is now. My opportunity is here.”
Coach Mike Yeo said Cuma will be better for the adversity he has faced.
“Nothing’s been given to him,” Yeo said. “I think that helps people in the long run. When things are given to you, there’s a sense of entitlement. The harder you have to work toward something and the harder you have to fight for it, the harder you’re going to work to hang onto it.”
Minnesota is 20-15-7 against teams currently in playoff position, and 15-20-4 versus teams not in the top eight.
“When we play against certain teams and our urgency level is up, your battle level is up, there’s almost a bit of fear going into the games,” Yeo said. “If you look at our record vs. the Eastern Conference (5-9-4) or [out of playoff teams], it’s an area we have to certainly make sure we’re much better at next year.
“It’ll be part of our exit meetings. We have to dig into this. We’re not ready to play the same type of game against those teams. It’s a lesson for us and something we have to improve.
“There’s a lot of ‘What could have beens and if onlys.’ It’s been a difficult time. That’s why I give our guys credit because it’s difficult on them, too. Real happy to see a lot of happy people living the building. I don’t know how many Chicago fans. I’m glad that they’re leaving. But I like seeing our fans leaving happy. We want to win some games for our fans. We want to give them something to feel good about here. We want them proud of a group that doesn’t quit.”
Talk to you Friday