Wild left wing Zach Parise missed Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars, but sources said his injury is not a recurrence of the herniated disk that bogged him down during last season’s second half and caused him to miss the Wild’s first-round playoff series with the Stars.
Parise is being hampered by a foot injury suffered two games ago from blocking a shot by Boston’s Brandon Carlo. The Wild is classifying Parise and injured defenseman Marco Scandella (lower body) as week to week.
With Parise out, the Wild recalled Christoph Bertschy and played him on the fourth line with Jason Zucker and Tyler Graovac, who scored his first career goal in a 4-0 win. Graovac was recalled earlier in the day and swapped spots with Teemu Pulkkinen, who cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Iowa.
“Your first NHL goal is something I’ve dreamed of, a short-term goal I’ve wanted for so long,” said Graovac. “I know I had a lot of family watching that game. It’s not just me scoring that goal. It’s my aunts, uncles, grandmother, my parents back home.”
The lineup changes forced coach Bruce Boudreau to scramble all his lines, and he said Bertschy, who got his first NHL point on Graovac’s goal, and Graovac may have been the Wild’s best forwards. Both were reassigned to Iowa after the game, but even if Erik Haula returns Tuesday, one or both could be recalled to play Buffalo.
Rookie Joel Eriksson Ek started at left wing with Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle but returned to third-line center once Zac Dalpe suffered a lower-body injury.
Graovac, 23, was the Wild’s biggest training camp disappointment after the team essentially left a roster spot open for him to win.
“I came into camp wanting to earn a spot, and it was a little bit of a reality check,” said Graovac, who played his sixth NHL game. “I’ve been put in a situation to kind of get stronger mentally.”
The Iowa Wild is rotating its captaincy. Graovac wore the “C” for one game, only then to be scratched because of early-season struggles. He scored two goals and had an assist in a win over Milwaukee on Thursday night, but before that he had one goal and no assists and was minus-10 in five games.
Boudreau liked his game Saturday.
“He played bigger. He moved his feet,” Boudreau said. “I thought he got involved when he was on the ice, so when you get involved usually good things happen. You get a little sweaty, you get a little sore and everything else sort of takes place.”
Said Graovac: “I’m just trying to prove who I am as a player. I don’t think I brought my game in camp. I don’t think I’ve proven really what I have the potential to do.”
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon returned after missing four games because of a rib injury. He got nailed on the corner dasher by Toronto’s Matt Martin, the same forward who effectively ended Keith Ballard’s career when Martin played for the Islanders.
“It wasn’t an outrageous hit, but just the way he got me,” Spurgeon said. “I knew he was coming, but I already moved the puck. Most guys swing by, but I guess I should have known who it was.”
With Scandella injured, right-shot defenseman Nate Prosser started on the left side of Spurgeon because Boudreau didn’t want to break up a Ryan Suter-Matt Dumba pairing that played well the previous four games.
• After three consecutive shutouts, Devan Dubnyk is 5-1-1 with a 1.43 goals-against average and .952 save percentage.
• Boudreau got to watch his son, Brady Boudreau, make 22 saves in a 3-2 overtime win for the New Ulm Steel on Friday night for his first junior win (North American Tier III Hockey League).