BUFFALO, N.Y. – This has been a road trip to forget for Ryan Suter.
It started Sunday in Chicago where the Wild got trounced 4-1. Suter was minus-3 and he said, “Every day’s a bad day right now.” It continued Tuesday in Pittsburgh where Suter was again minus-3 and he elbowed the Penguins’ Steve Downie in the head.
That uncalled infraction earned Suter a two-game suspension Wednesday night, meaning the Wild’s No. 1 defenseman won’t play in Thursday’s road-trip finale at Buffalo and Saturday’s Hockey Day Minnesota game against Arizona. He loses $81,058.72 in salary.
As Suter eerily said this past Sunday, “When it rains it pours, and it’s pouring.”
Suter has been so unlucky lately, he has been getting minuses even when he’s not on the ice. That’s why his original minus-4 in Pittsburgh was amended to minus-3 Wednesday. Once a plus-13 this season, Suter is minus-21 in the past 20 games.
“I’ve never gone through anything like this,” Suter said before his hearing. “Innocent plays are ending up in the back of our net. I’ve never, ever, experienced [these minuses] in my life. To be minus-3 in a night, it would happen maybe once a year. Now it seems like it’s an every-night occurrence.”
Coach Mike Yeo was hoping the NHL would let Suter off the hook with a fine, especially because Downie practiced Wednesday and Suter had no history of any wrongdoings.
“He’s not in any way a dirty player,” Yeo said. “I know that he felt bad about it even during the game.”
With defenseman Justin Falk (upper body) hurt and Suter suspended, the Wild recalled defenseman Matt Dumba from Iowa. He scored four goals and had eight assists and was plus-2 in 17 games. Dumba has six points in 33 career games for Minnesota.
With three left-shot defensemen out, including injured Marco Scandella, defenseman Jared Spurgeon is expected to play the left side Thursday for the first time in his pro career.
New goalie could start
With Darcy Kuemper still injured, Josh Harding not an option because of multiple sclerosis and Niklas Backstrom, who has allowed 30 goals in his past eight starts, having given up six goals during Tuesday’s 7-2 loss at Pittsburgh, General Manager Chuck Fletcher traded a third-round pick to Arizona for Devan Dubnyk.
The hope is he can make his Wild debut Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
“He accepted his role and played very well,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of Dubnyk, who resurrected his career this season after a difficult 2013-14 in which he lost his job in Edmonton and was traded twice. “He was solid going about his business, giving his team a chance to win. Devan was a very good teammate.”
Dubnyk worked exclusively with Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke, who has said Dubnyk improved his patience and positioning.
“We need to play better team defense in general, but I think adding another goaltender made a lot of sense,” Fletcher said. “He’s had a very good season in Arizona and four of his last five seasons his statistics are quite good and, at this point, we’re hoping he can deliver more of the same.
“We’re just looking for him to play the way he’s played in four of the last five years and we’ll go from there. And, hopefully, the competition will help, too.”
The Wild’s goaltending has been porous all season. It started with Harding breaking his foot before the season, then Kuemper starting to leak in the past six weeks. He has been pulled in five of his past seven home starts.
“That’s a position that’s always magnified,” Zach Parise said. “The way that position works, if you have an off-night it can unfortunately cost you the game easily, whereas, if you’re a forward and you have an off-night, you can blend in and do other things.
“There’s way more that happens before the puck gets to the net that can’t happen. … We’re making it pretty easy for the other team.”