Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Kuemper shuts out Oilers during solid Wild effort; Stoner fine after "gruesome" looking injury

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: February 28, 2014 - 12:13 AM

Darcy Kuemper continues to do everything he can to alleviate any concerns the suits upstairs may have with the Wild’s goaltending down the stretch.

We’ve learned the last two months the rookie’s feeling confident when he flashes the leather after a big save. That’s what he did after gloving down Mike Richards’ shootout attempt in a 39-save victory at L.A. – the game that started this remarkable run from the Sunshine Kid – and that’s what he did on a Taylor Hall blast in the second period tonight.

It wasn’t as pronounced. But look closely, and it was clear as day to see.

Kuemper made 21 saves for his second career shutout during the Wild’s 3-0 blanking of the Oilers.

Check out the gamer for the details, but the Wild defended well, took hits to make plays and got the puck north for the majority of the game. Kuemper didn’t have to make a bunch of huge saves, but his biggest on Jordan Eberle in the second – a point-blank one-timer to his right – preserved a 1-0 lead.

Shortly after, Erik Haula set up Stephane Veilleux for the Wild’s second goal.

The Wild’s now five up on Dallas for the top wildcard spot and six up on 10th-place Vancouver, Friday’s opponent. Coach Mike Yeo said Kuemper will start that game. He is 9-2-2 in his past 14 starts with a 2.02 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.

Mikael Granlund, whom Yeo said this morning has a chance to do something special these final 22 games, scored two minutes into the game off a nice feed from Zach Parise. He did get banged up twice, once when he took a puck to the left cheek, the other when he was checked by Nick Schultz and looked to fall into another Oiler. Athletic therapist Don Fuller worked on him a bunch after that shift and was with him in the locker room after.

Granlund said afterward cunningly that he didn’t know what I was talking about and he’s OK.

Two guys also banged up tonight?

Nate Prosser and Clayton Stoner.

Prosser, 12 seconds into his first shift and 54 seconds into the game, was hit from behind by Blaine’s Matt Hendricks, who was a physical menace all game. Somehow no penalty was called on the blatant boarding major. Kyle Brodziak immediately challenged him thought, which resulted in a 4-on-4 that led to Granlund's goal. So it worked out.

Prosser said he got his “bell rung” and took stitches to the chin, but while he was lost for the rest of the first period, he returned to start the second and had an assist on Veilleux's goal.

“I knew he was coming,” said Prosser, whose wife is days from giving birth to their second child. “I knew it was Hendricks and he finishes his hits. But I’m digging the puck out. I expect a little rubout or something, but he full-fledged put me into the glass.”

Clayton Stoner’s injury was, as Yeo said, “gruesome” looking. While either grabbing the jersey of Luke Gazdic in a fight or having his finger punched by Gazdic as he reached (Stoner didn’t know), Stoner’s left ring finger dislocated. Screen captures on Twitter (check out @randball) showed his finger facing east.

I would have been lost for weeks. Stoner returned in the third after doctors got the finger back in place and he told them to tape his ring finger to his middle finger for support.

“Probably looked worse than it felt,” said Stoner. “I’ve had problems with this finger for three weeks, so I think the tendons are weak and it came out easier than it should of.”

Oh, OK.

We’ll see if Stoner can play Friday in Vancouver, his home province team so to speak. If he can’t, the Wild has Marco Scandella waiting in the wings. If he can’t play, the Wild has Steve Kampfer or will need to helicopter in Jon Blum.

Keith Ballard, who returns to Vancouver, his former team, for the first time since signing a two-year deal with Minnesota last summer, was plus-3 and was great. His drive to the net helped lead to Granlund’s goal.

I thought Jared Spurgeon had a great game. Assist, three blocked shots for the Edmonton native. Charlie Coyle was good defensively and offensively. Dany Heatley scored a goal in front of the fans who just love him so.

Lots of good efforts from Wild players. Now on to Vancouver for a big game Friday. I’m staring a 4:30 a.m. wakeup call in the face. Talk to you from one of the best stops in the league Friday.


Team Irvin 9 2nd Qtr 15:00
Team Carter 13
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 84 4th Qtr 8:29
Toronto 93
Milwaukee 71 4th Qtr 8:52
San Antonio 78
Boston 41 2nd Qtr 2:27
Golden State 47
Washington 45 2nd Qtr 4:49
Denver 42
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 49 2nd Half 0:35
Villanova 71
Northwestern 46 2nd Half 15:14
Maryland 35
Washington 10 1st Half 11:45
Utah 20
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
(11) Stanford 36 2nd Half
USC 27
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