Wild newcomers arrive rejuvenated, supply vital shot of energy

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 27, 2012 - 12:21 AM

Nick Palmieri was "as advertised," coach Mike Yeo said. Kurtis Foster offered a stable presence on the back end. And Stephane Veilleux, well, had Yeo "cheering."

"I like that kind of hockey," the Wild coach said of Veilleux, who on his first shift in a Wild sweater since April 11, 2009, clobbered Jim Vandermeer and Justin Braun.

Sunday night, in a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks, the Wild was sparked by the three newcomers who came from New Jersey in the Marek Zidlicky trade.

The 6-3 Palmieri, a 22-year-old who has visions of being a power forward, is the one Yeo will be paying particularly close attention to the rest of the season.

"He looks like he could have a place here. He seems like he can fit our game well," Yeo said. "We hope that he can score, but ... the only thing we want to do is identify what kind of player he is and figure out how we can best use him and what kind of role he's best suited for."

Palmieri, who had two shots and helped create Matt Cullen's tying goal, said: "I like to get in the traffic areas and try to create some space for my linemates. ... I'm excited for the opportunity."

Veilleux, who had played one NHL game in two seasons, is trying to resurrect his career. He ranks eighth in Wild history with 362 games. Friday in Syracuse, Veilleux was pulled from Albany's warmups and told he was traded back to Minnesota.

"To be honest with you, I started crying," Veilleux said. "Every day the last two years, I followed the Wild every day in the paper. I always wanted to know what was going on. It's just amazing to be back."

Foster, 30, has been traded three times in a year. He's tired of it and wants to earn a contract for next year.

"You come to a team like this fighting for its playoff lives, you want to do anything to help them get over that hump and help yourself at the same time," Foster said.

Sharks coach injured

There was a scary incident on the San Jose bench 2:15 into the second period when coach Todd McLellan was inadvertently tomahawked by Wild defenseman Marco Scandella's stick in the center of his face.

McLellan, the Wild's former minor league coach in Houston, went down in a heap and had to be helped off after several tense moments with Wild doctors. Two stretchers were wheeled over -- one down the runway, one on the ice, but neither was used.

McLellan was alert, responsive and watched the rest of the game in the coach's office as assistants Matt Shaw and Jay Woodcroft took over. McLellan wasn't feeling well but was set to go home with the team, until mechanical problems kept the Sharks in Minnesota until Monday.

"I was really worried," said Scandella, who was checked into the bench by Jamie McGinn. Scandella was relieved after the game when he walked to the Sharks dressing room and found out McLellan was OK.

"It was a freak accident," McGinn said.

A few coaches have wound up wounded in the line of duty recently. Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff broke ribs in a practice collision with Jordan Leopold, and Edmonton coach Tom Renney suffered a concussion when struck by a puck.

"Clutter saved my life," Yeo said of Cal Clutterbuck in Sunday's game. "They shot a puck and he reached up and grabbed it, so he'll get some more power play time."

Etc.

Yeo said Mikko Koivu, who has missed five games with an undisclosed injury, is "getting better, getting closer," but he had no time frame. Koivu skated before the game Sunday.

Staff writer Kent Youngblood contributed to this report.

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