Nothing like opening the home season without a handful of your best forwards.
The Wild went into Thursday's game at Chicago with only 11 healthy forwards, and emerged with its first victory of the season and only eight healthy forwards.
And none of the team's five injured players is expected to make a return for the team's home opener Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Xcel Energy Center.
"We started talking about which one of the defensemen was going to have to come up here to play forward," winger Chris Stewart said postgame Thursday, "just to even the lines out."
Charlie Coyle, playing in his franchise-record 316th consecutive game, suffered a broken right fibula when hit with a shot and had surgery Friday in the Twin Cities. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Nino Niederreiter, checked awkwardly into the boards, came away with a high left ankle sprain and is out at least three weeks.
Marcus Foligno took a haymaker on the left cheekbone from John Hayden after ripping Hayden's helmet off in a fight, and has a facial fracture that will sideline him at least a week.
Wingers Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund were already sitting out. Granlund, the team's scoring leader last season, has a groin issue and is out at least another week. Parise, believed to be having complications from a back injury, was supposed to miss Saturday's game but was vague Friday.
"I don't know yet," Parise said. "I don't know if things changed after last night. … I've never wanted to put a timetable on anything. But you know, when they say I can play, I'll be playing. I just kind of go by that."
Parise continued to drop some hints and cast some doubts about an emergency return for the home opener, saying, "If it doesn't happen, it'll be pretty disappointing."
"The opening night is always a lot of fun. There's a lot of excitement in the building, and it's a really fun game to play in. So I'm hoping I'll be there. If not, I'll be watching. But it'll be disappointing if it doesn't happen."
The Wild called up center Luke Kunin and three other forwards from Iowa, sending down defenseman Mike Reilly. Kunin will make his NHL debut Saturday; he was the team's top draft pick (15th overall) in 2016. He was captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. team in the world junior championships last winter, and played two seasons at Wisconsin before signing with the Wild after last season.
Reilly is one of two Wild players (Joel Eriksson Ek is the other) who can be sent to Iowa without clearing waivers.
The club also put Coyle on long-term injured reserve, providing more cap relief, so it could recall Christoph Bertschy, Landon Ferraro and Zack Mitchell. Niederreiter will go on injured reserve.
Bertschy and Mitchell have played for the Wild before; Ferraro was signed as a free agent in July after stints with the Red Wings and Bruins.
"Any player coming into the room, coming in to play, will feel pretty comfortable right away and will have a lot of players to lean on early," Parise said of any new additions. "It's always a hard thing playing your first game or first couple games, and so you rely on other people. We've got a lot of good people that can show them the right direction."
People like Stewart, who scored twice in Chicago, giving him four goals in three games.
"With injuries comes opportunity. We know guys have to step up," he said postgame. "We're one of the deeper teams in the league. When guys go down, you want to step up for your teammates. It was me [Thursday], and who knows? It could be someone else next game.''
Parise said he's admired his teammates' hustle.
"We need that when you're missing a lot of players," Parise said. "Guys are going to get different opportunities, and we need players to get into the position to take advantage, and a lot of guys are doing that.
"You want to have a heathy lineup. But when it doesn't happen, you've got to manufacture goals and good play from a lot of different people."