GLENDALE, ARIZ. – Cam Talbot didn't want to say too much.
"Sometimes you just want to be left alone," the veteran goaltender said, "and no one gets that better than me."
But Talbot did chat with Kaapo Kahkonen after the rookie was in net April 9 for the most lopsided loss in franchise history, a 9-1 shellacking at St. Louis.
"He was trying to put the blame on himself that night, which I thought was very unwarranted," Talbot said. "There's a lot of things that went wrong in that game, and I don't think any of them were on him. So just as a young guy, he tries to hold himself accountable and maybe too accountable at times. So, I just tried to calm him down a little bit."
Kahkonen turned the page on that game Saturday, backstopping the Wild to a 5-2 win over the Sharks at Xcel Energy Center that gave him sole possession of the Wild single-season record for wins by a rookie with 13.
And the bounce-back performance came after the Wild made it clear to Kahkonen that the team has confidence in him.
"It's awesome," Kahkonen said. "Obviously last game I played wasn't that much fun, but the support from the whole coaching staff … and the guys trusting me, that's what it's about. It's a team game and within the team, you have to trust your teammates and sometimes there's lows for everyone and sometimes there's highs. No matter what you just gotta go through that."
Talbot, who was back in net for the Wild on Monday against the Coyotes, wasn't the only one to reach out to Kahkonen after that loss. So did coach Dean Evason, and Evason forecast Kahkonen's mind-set would enable him to move on from a game like that like he did with his 26-save effort Saturday.
"We didn't expect anything different," Evason said. "He competes his butt off. He's mentally strong. He's a great teammate. We had no issues. This wasn't a surprise to us."
Nick Bjugstad is on the road trip and skated Monday morning with the team but didn't suit up against the Coyotes. The winger hasn't played since suffering an upper-body injury April 5 vs. the Avalanche, sitting out seven games.
"Just day by day," Evason said. "We'll see how he feels [Monday]. Obviously, it's nice for him to get out there with the guys."
The soccer huddle wasn't part of Evason's pregame ritual when he was an NHL player in the 1980s and '90s, but juggling a ball has become routine for players nowadays.
And sometimes the exercise can translate to the game, like on Saturday when center Joel Eriksson Ek deflected in a puck with his chest — one of the more creative goals the Wild has scored this season.
"It's just a good way to warm up and get your eyes focused in," said veteran forward Marcus Johansson, who participates in the soccer circle before games, "and you get to move and react and get going. But, yeah, that was a good goal and those count, too. It was smart of him to get it with his chest and not try and get it with his hand or anything like that. So, that was a good play by him."