Two hours before Sunday’s game, Nick Bjugstad screamed down the hallway between the home and visiting dressing rooms, “Keep your head up, Mikey!”
Sunday’s Wild-Florida game featured four ex-Gophers who were all teammates in 2012-13: Erik Haula and “Mikey” Reilly vs. Bjugstad and Kyle Rau. The four skate and work out together in the summer.
“We’re all buddies, and it’s been fun playing with Rau. This is kind of his rink more so than mine,” Bjugstad said of Xcel Energy Center. “He scored a lot of big goals here, both in high school and [college] regionals.”
Rau won two state championships with Eden Prairie in St. Paul, including in 2009 when he scored two third-period goals to beat Bjugstad and Blaine in the semifinals.
Haula had the last laugh Sunday. He had two points, including a highlight-reel game-winning breakaway goal in the third period.
“It was a lot of fun,” Haula said of all the Gophers. “Probably the funnest part was giving Rau a big smile there with 38 seconds left after we got the empty-net goal. That was a good moment.”
Rau said, “He’s quick, really fast, he can finish, and sure enough he did.”
Milestone for Koivu
With his parents coincidentally in town and his wife and two children at the game, captain Mikko Koivu played his 744th game as a Wild member, breaking the team record. During the first TV timeout, the Wild recognized Koivu with a video montage that spanned from being drafted sixth overall to now.
“I got chills,” Charlie Coyle said.
Koivu realized what was up when he saw footage of former Wild assistant General Manager Tommy Thompson standing next to him at the 2001 draft.
“Not surprised the way they handled it,” Koivu said of the team. “People here, it’s always been first class.”
New Wild coach John Torchetti continues to hold players accountable, especially with his power-play ice time allotment. One example is he continues to start the No. 2 unit if he’s not happy with the play of the No. 1 unit.
Sunday, after a terrible first power play from defenseman Matt Dumba, Torchetti removed the youngster from the power play altogether.
Dumba had a tough shift that culminated with his negating the power play with a penalty that resulted in the tying goal. The Wild’s penalty kill has been beaten five times on the past eight chances and 13 on the past 41.
“We can’t make penalties like that, it doesn’t matter who you are,” Torchetti said. “It doesn’t matter if it was [Dumba], it doesn’t matter if it was anybody else, but we move on from there, and we make our adjustments game-to-game as we go.”
• Winger Chris Porter cleared waivers Sunday and played against the Panthers. If the Wild needs his $575,000 cap space in order to complete a trade by Monday’s 2 p.m. deadline, the team can now assign him to AHL Iowa.
• Winger Jason Zucker can be activated off injured reserve Monday, but he said he has a “few more hoops to jump through” before he can return from a concussion. He has missed four games.
Zucker isn’t upset with the hit by Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival that concussed him.
“I don’t think it was a dirty hit at all,” Zucker said. “I didn’t have the puck, but I don’t think he extended his elbow out.”
• Defenseman Chris Folin was scratched.