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Wild forward Casey Wellman, left, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard celebrated Wellman's third career goal. He has one NHL goal in each of his three seasons.

Jim Mone, Associated Press - Ap

Casey Wellman moves up, gets first goal

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • December 3, 2011 - 12:36 AM

One Cal Clutterbuck injury meant a different-looking Wild lineup during Friday's 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

With Clutterbuck day-to-day because of a thigh injury, Devin Setoguchi moved back to the top line with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, and Casey Wellman finally got his chance to play on a scoring line.

Scratched Wednesday in Edmonton and typically put into a fourth-line role whenever called up by the Wild, the former college sharp-shooter who has broken out offensively with the Houston Aeros this season (11 goals in 20 games) played left wing with Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

If the smaller Wellman is going to stick in the NHL, it likely has to be as a scorer. But to be a top-liner, he must shoot more than he did during a subpar preseason and flash the skill and speed that was so touted when he signed out of Massachusetts in 2010.

He got things started against the Devils with his third career goal, which was his second career game-winner.

"It's nice that his name ended up on the scoresheet, but even if he didn't score that goal, I thought he played a good game," coach Mike Yeo said. "That's really important to me. I thought his speed was very noticeable out there. I thought he was on the puck, made strong plays with the puck."

Darroll Powe, who didn't play in the third period in Edmonton because of a charleyhorse, surprisingly played, but Yeo still wanted to see Cody Almond, called up Thursday, play. That meant David McIntyre was scratched.

Almond played nine minutes, skated well and was solid on the penalty kill.

He played for Yeo last year in Houston and was 25 pounds heavier. Yeo suggested he shed weight because he needed to be quicker to "make the jump to the NHL," Almond said. But all that offseason running knocked his hips out of alignment, which resulted in him missing training camp because of back pain.

"It was bad timing, it was pretty frustrating at the time," said the 22-year-old Almond, who played his 16th NHL game. "But I'm healthy now and feel better than I did before the injury."

Not OK with check

Clutterbuck hoped to play Friday, but when he skated on his own before the morning skate he still experienced pain. Clutterbuck was injured Wednesday when Edmonton's Ryan Whitney extended his knee and tripped him, an uncalled infraction Clutterbuck said wasn't "clean."

Whitney never faced an NHL disciplinary hearing.

"It would be nice to kind of have guys be held accountable for those things, but obviously somebody felt it wasn't necessary," Clutterbuck said. "I just [wonder] if that happens to Sidney Crosby, what kind of uproar is there?"

Lemaire-less

Friday's game was the first Wild-Devils game in history without now-retired Jacques Lemaire coaching one of the two teams.

"He was a mastermind, and I feel fortunate to have been coached by him," said defenseman Nick Schultz, who has played 707 games. "He's one of the best, and really taught me a lot about the defensive game, like having a good stick -- stick in the lane, stick on puck, being in proper position.

"These are things coming up as a young player you didn't know how to do properly."

Injury update

Yeo expects Clutterbuck and defenseman Justin Falk (upper body) to travel on the upcoming five-game road trip, but concussed players Guillaume Latendresse (out 11 games) and Marek Zidlicky (eight games) remain out indefinitely. They are skating lightly on their own but haven't been cleared for full workouts.

"It's just going slowly," Yeo said.

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