As the Wild’s gear was being loaded onto a truck Tuesday morning in preparation for a three-game road trip, one locker at Xcel Energy Center still held its neatly stacked equipment. Matt Cullen, who incurred a lower-body injury in Monday’s loss to St. Louis, will miss at least the California portion of a trip that begins Wednesday.
The center was hurt when he fell awkwardly late in the second period of the 4-1 loss. He sat out the third period and will not play Wednesday at San Jose nor Thursday at Los Angeles. Coach Mike Yeo said Cullen does not appear to be seriously injured, but he doesn’t want to take chances with a player as important as his second-line center.
With Cullen out, the Wild recalled center Johan Larsson from Houston. Most of the team chose to skip Tuesday’s optional practice and rest up for the five-day road trip.
“We’ve got a lot of games coming up,’’ said Yeo, who added that it’s possible Cullen could join the team in Columbus on Sunday. “Obviously, we’re hopeful he’s back very quickly. Having said that, somebody’s going to get an opportunity to step up.’’
Larsson, 20, has 15 goals and 22 assists in 62 games with Houston this season. He is the Aeros’ third-leading scorer and made his NHL debut against Detroit on Feb. 17.
Moving right along
The Wild is facing a pair of challenging foes this week. San Jose is among the league’s hottest teams. The Sharks are undefeated in their past five games and have a 12-1-4 mark at HP Pavilion. Los Angeles is 6-3-1 in its past 10 games.
But Yeo didn’t want to talk about those teams Tuesday. The Wild’s focus, he said, must remain solely on itself—and it must stay in the moment. He said he already had gotten past the disappointment of Monday’s loss, in which the Wild strayed from the formula that had vaulted it to eight victories in the previous nine games.
“I think it’s very important that we only focus on [Wednesday],’’ Yeo said. “I know we play L.A. as well, but I think we do ourselves a disservice if we start thinking about it as a whole.
“There’s no rest for the wicked with this schedule. It’s one [game] after another. Regardless of what the outcome was [Monday], we have to be able to push it aside and be able to focus on the next one.’’
The Wild on Tuesday signed center Tyler Graovac, 19, a seventh-round pick in the 2011 NHL draft. He is playing in the Ontario Hockey League. Graovac has 38 goals and 35 assists in 60 games. He started the season in Ottawa and was traded to Belleville on Jan. 5.
He leads Belleville with 10 points in six playoff games and has scored eight game-winning goals, fourth-most in the OHL.
Brent Flahr, the Wild’s assistant general manager, said the 6-4, 203-pound Graovac has made “huge strides in his overall game’’ since being drafted.
Graovac signed a three-year, entry-level deal and will report to Houston when his OHL season ends.