The Wild had been playing for almost two weeks when it fended off the Coyotes on Tuesday night for the team’s first regulation-time victory.
But that 2-1 result seemed to signal the start of this season’s grind, with the Wild improving to 2-2-2 while shorthanded and finishing off two games in as many nights.
And although it had two days to regroup, the adversity hasn’t waned much — especially since the Wild will try to assemble its first win streak during another arduous back-to-back, starting Friday at Dallas against the Stars before returning to Xcel Energy Center to play host to the Lightning on Saturday.
“We just persevere and keep going,” coach Bruce Boudreau said, “and hopefully good things come.”
A patchwork effort was responsible for that triumph over Arizona since the Wild relied mostly on 10 forwards, and it will use another new look to tackle this weekend.
Captain Mikko Koivu will be back after missing the game Tuesday to be with his wife, Helena, as she gave birth to the couple’s third child, Oskar, but veteran forward Matt Hendricks is out. Hendricks suffered a lower-body injury Tuesday, leaving the action in the first period after Coyotes winger Brendan Perlini fell on Hendricks’ left leg — pinning it on the ice. Boudreau hopes Hendricks won’t be sidelined for more than two to three weeks.
Center Joel Eriksson Ek is also ruled out for the back-to-back, as he remains on the mend from a lower-body injury. He has been shifted to injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 11, a move that gives the Wild the flexibility to make a call-up if needed.
Winger Marcus Foligno didn’t practice Thursday because he is under the weather; the team was set to evaluate Foligno’s status before it departed for Dallas, but Boudreau was hopeful Foligno would accompany the team on the road trip.
Amid these issues, the Wild did recall forward Matt Read from the American Hockey League and Read joined the team for its on-ice session Thursday — taking a spot in the top six alongside center Eric Staal and winger Jason Zucker.
“I was shocked to see that when I walked in this morning,” Read said. “But excited for the opportunity, and hopefully we can mesh well right off the bat [Friday] night and have fun out there [and] try and create a winning atmosphere around here.”
Read, who signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Wild in July, was among the final cuts at training camp after making an impressive audition. He scored in the preseason and worked to showcase his defensive awareness; when he reported to Iowa, the Wild told him it expected him to be back at some point.
“I obviously want to stay here as long as I can and make a positive impact on every game and play well with my linemates,” Read said. “Go out there and work hard and make the most of every opportunity you get. It could be one game. It could be the rest of the season. You don’t know. You’ve got to go out there and fight like it’s your last game every game and make the most of everything.”
While it may seem unusual to slot a call-up on one of the Wild’s top lines, Read has played in a similar spot in the past.
The 32-year-old twice eclipsed 20 goals in his career with the Flyers, skating alongside the likes of scorers Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
“He’s a veteran,” Boudreau said. “He’s experienced. He knows how to play. The big stage isn’t going to awe him I don’t think if anything. He’s coming in. He’s going to play.”
Look for Read to focus on the forecheck, engaging in battles along the boards to retrieve pucks and hand them off to Staal and Zucker — the duo that orchestrated the game-winner Tuesday, with Zucker dishing off to Staal for the score. wAnd after failing to build off its previous win, the Wild is optimistic its latest success will be the springboard that helps it accumulate more points this weekend.
“If we play the way we can and keep getting better, I think we put ourselves in a pretty good spot after this week,” Staal said. “Obviously, we have to do that and perform but we got the opportunity. That’s the fun part, and that’s what you have to look forward to and try and start it off with a good one [Friday] and go from there.”