Wild notes: Cooke returns to playoff action after suspension

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 10, 2014 - 5:45 AM

Matt Cooke made his long-anticipated return to the Wild’s lineup Friday night after serving his seven-game suspension for kneeing Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of the first round.

“I’ve been ready to go since I haven’t been able to play, so the time is finally here and I just want to go out and battle with my teammates,” Cooke said before Game 4’s 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. “I’ve got a lot of praise for the guys in this room.

“They’ve done a great job, battling with adversity, up in games, down in games, tough travel. They’ve done a great job, and I’m just thankful that I get a chance to go out and play with them again.”

Cooke slid into his old third-line left wing spot next to rookies Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine, and set up Fontaine for the game’s first goal.

“Two kids that can skate really fast and really well,” Cooke said. “Erik’s done a great job. He’s been put in the situation to play against top lines and part of that’s his speed, competitive level and the part that probably goes unnoticed, his skill.”

Cooke, who has a history of suspensions buts was serving his first in three years, was asked if he was going to be looking for his first big hit since April 21 or if he would be tentative.

“Obviously, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt and neither does anyone else, but you also don’t want this to be a figure-skating contest out there,” he said. “It’s something I’ve tried to pride myself on, especially here over the last three years, that you can play physical without being at risk.

“I can go out there and continue to play the way I did the last three years, and if I do that, then I’m going to bring energy for our team.”

Mover and shaker

He has played left wing and right wing, on the first line all the way down to the fourth line. Yet no matter his role or position this season, Nino Niederreiter hasn’t griped.

Niederreiter actually began a second consecutive game on the same line — “a big man’s line,” as he called it — with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle. Niederreiter scored the go-ahead goal in the second period Friday.

“At the end of the day, I make sure I can find chemistry as quick as I can on any line,” Niederreiter said. “We all play structured and all play the same system, so it helps when you switch lines as many times as I have this year.”

Niederreiter began raising his level in Game 6 of the first round and scored two goals in Game 7 of the first round.

“I feel like it’s always been my strength, in big games coming up big,” Niederreiter said. “At the end of the day, each one of our players wants to be a difference maker. If everybody goes in with that mentality, somebody’s going to be that player.

“Big games are the most fun games to play. You know there is something on the line and you have to look in the mirror at the end of the night, and if you can say you gave everything you did that game, then good things will happen.”

Coach Mike Yeo said he has spent the season talking to Niederreiter every time he has changed his role or position.

“You don’t just let him go into whatever situation you’re asking him to play blindly,” Yeo said. “We’ve tried to work with him, whether it’s a fourth-line role, whether it’s a third-line role, left wing, right wing, first line, there’s been games he’s played on the power play, there’s been games that he hasn’t, but we try to make sure he goes into the game with a good understanding of what we’re expecting of him.”

Aches and pains

Goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body) didn’t take the ice Friday, but Yeo didn’t know if there had been a setback. In addition, Niklas Backstrom (abdominal surgery) was seen at the arena for the first time in a while, climbing stairs as part of his rehab. Josh Harding (multiple sclerosis) continues to skate with the big club.

Defensemen Nate Prosser and Jon Blum and forwards Stephane Veilleux and Mike Rupp were scratched. Winger Matt Moulson (lower body injury) also sat out.

Defenseman Keith Ballard, who has had his season destroyed by injury after injury, left Friday’s game in the second period dazed when boarded by Chicago’s Brandon Bollig. Ballard, who has had a concussion and broken ribs this season, was playing only his second game since returning from a groin injury.

  • related content

  • Video: Close to perfect game by Wild ties up series

    Saturday May 10, 2014

    The Wild played as close to a perfect game as possible to tie up their series with the Blackhawks...

  • Wild dominates Blackhawks on both ends to even series

    Saturday May 10, 2014

    The Wild, 5-0 at home in the playoffs with five goals allowed, found an extra gear and tied the series.

  • Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke (24) celebrated after the Wild scored during first period action. ] CARLOS GONZALEZ cgonzalez@startribune.com - May 9, 2014, St. Paul, Minn., Xcel Energy Center, NHL, Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2, Game 4

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 4 Top 6th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 3rd Prd 5:53
Detroit 0
Montreal 0 2nd Prd 9:49
Chicago 0
Arizona 1 2nd Prd
Edmonton 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close