Matt Dumba needed help getting to the bench in Colorado after he went crashing feet first into the boards, his right skate elevated above the ice as he slowly left the game.
"I was just trying to turn on too sharp of an angle and when my skate hit the ice, it just kind of lifted up my blade," Dumba recalled. "I went sliding in and tried to protect it, sticking out my left leg, but I just went in there funny. I was going a little too fast."
Despite how grim the aftermath of that collision looked, the defenseman rejoined the Wild lineup only a week later — suiting up Thursday against the Blues at Xcel Energy Center.
"How I play, things will happen," Dumba said. "It's kind of just all part of it. I know I just do whatever it takes to get back in."
This wasn't the first time this season Dumba has avoided a lengthy absence.
After getting tied up with Jordan Greenway and falling awkwardly to the ice on Jan. 30, Dumba missed just two games before the Wild's season was suspended because of a COVID-19 outbreak. When the team restarted, Dumba was ready to return.
His latest setback was similar to that injury, and Dumba said he knew "the right steps" to take to get healthy. Overall, Dumba sat out only three games before he was once again good to go.
"I think I've just been fortunate and lucky it hasn't been anything worse," he said.
Hitting his stride
Carson Soucy was reprimanded last week for a hit, getting suspended one game for charging Arizona's Conor Garland on March 16.
But the 6-foot-5, 211-pound defenseman hasn't stopped finishing his checks in his return to action.
"The suspension was I think just kind of a fluke," Soucy said. "I didn't try to get him up high or anything. I've had a pretty clean track record before. But it's a big part of my game, and I can't shy away from the physical part. I think it helps bring momentum, and it definitely helps me being engaged to the physical play."
Soucy leveled Anaheim's Troy Terry in the first period of the 3-2 win over the Ducks on Wednesday, a heavy hit in the neutral zone. Although he wasn't penalized, Soucy was confronted by Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf and the two fought, with Getzlaf receiving an extra two minutes for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.
"I've got a lot of respect for him," Soucy said of Getzlaf. "He's still sticking up for young guys, being one of their best players. So it's part of the game."
And what's at the heart of Soucy's game when he's at his best is being a physical presence.
"Not too long ago we sat him out to watch and evaluate what's going to make him a real good obviously NHL defenseman, and it starts with his physicality," coach Dean Evason said. "It starts with him being engaged every single night in his puck battles and his 1-on-1 battles and when he does that and stuff like that presents itself, he's big and strong enough to handle himself.
"He's getting more comfortable in that role and for us to have success, he has to continue to do that."
Rotating the 'A'
The Wild is planning to rotate the alternate captaincy in Zach Parise's absence after the veteran winger was added to the NHL's COVID list Wednesday and remained in the protocols Thursday.
Center Joel Eriksson Ek wore the "A" Wednesday, and defenseman Jonas Brodin was the next to receive the distinction against the Blues.
"There's many guys on your hockey club that are leaders that don't have the 'A,' " Evason said. "But it's nice to have other people feel that responsibility when your actual captains go out or get hurt or injured or get sick in Zach's case."