SUNRISE, Fla. – Winger Marcus Foligno has been a bystander for most of the Wild’s success this season, idling on the injured list for a 10-game span that cost him almost all of November.
“It was even worse with the guys being on the road, too,” Foligno said. “You go to the rink, and you’re just seeing one strength coach.”
And while he yearned to be part of the action, Foligno also hoped his return to the lineup Sunday wouldn’t disrupt the Wild’s rhythm.
But that didn’t happen, with the Wild rallying for a 3-2 shootout victory over the Stars while getting back to full strength up front.
“It was a big win against Dallas, so I was happy we could go out and win,” Foligno said. “It’s like I don’t want to come in the lineup and have a bad game. So, it’s huge the way we finished.”
Although the Wild was rolling before Foligno got healthy, coach Bruce Boudreau still changed the team’s lineup to usher the left winger back into duty.
In 16 games before suffering a lower-body injury Nov. 7 at San Jose, Foligno scored twice and chipped in four assists.
“He was a major part of our team before he got hurt,” Boudreau said. “So, no matter how you’re playing, when he’s ready to go in, he deserves the right to go in and that’s the way I’m looking at it anyway and we’ll adjust accordingly.”
Dealing with what he described as a “freak injury on a hit,” Foligno said time was the best remedy for the issue.
“It was an injury I wanted to make sure it was healing right and not something that was bugging me for the rest of the year.”
After posting his first career win last Tuesday in New Jersey, goalie Kaapo Kahkonen heard from the players he’s spent most of the season alongside — his teammates with Iowa in the American Hockey League.
“A bunch of guys sent me texts. It was awesome,” Kahkonen said. “I feel it’s like here. We’ve got a good group of guys down there, so everybody supports each other. Anytime somebody gets a chance to play up, everybody’s [excited].”
Kahkonen made his second start Tuesday, with Boudreau feeling Kahkonen deserved another game after his 32-save NHL debut in the 3-2 victory over the Devils.
Alex Stalock, who has handled most of the goaltending duties since Devan Dubnyk has been away from the team amid a medical situation with his wife, Jenn, is poised to against the Lightning on Thursday in Tampa.
“I just have to do my job and help the team, whether it’s backing up or playing,” Kahkonen said. “I’m just living day by day. Enjoy the moment obviously. It’s fun to be here and really awesome.”
Forward Ryan Donato was a healthy scratch against the Panthers, with center Victor Rask taking his place on the fourth line.
But the decision wasn’t in response to Donato committing two penalties Sunday, one of which the Stars capitalized on to knot the score at 1.
“I just told Ryan, I said, ‘It had nothing to do with the penalties because I put you out in the third period and you guys did good. You got us a power play, and you cultivated chances,’ ” Boudreau said. “So, it’s more … Rask didn’t deserve to sit out, either. So, we’ll take it as it goes and then we’ll see after [Tuesday’s game] and make decisions not long-term but short-term.”
Prospects in the pipeline
Goalie Hunter Jones has been invited to Canada’s selection camp for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, while center Alexander Khovanov, another Wild prospect, was included on Russia’s preliminary roster for the tournament.