GLENDALE, Ariz. – Wild winger Ryan Donato remembers 10 or 15 scoring chances already this season that made him go, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Instead of getting lodged into the back of the net, pucks have caromed off the post or been snagged by the goalie.
“I could be in a completely different place if a lot of those go in,” Donato said.
But it wasn’t until Thursday that Donato finally scored, his first of the season, to help extend the Wild’s comeback bid at San Jose before it eventually expired as a 6-5 loss.
And although it took until Game 14 for Donato to capitalize, he is hoping the tally will spark more offense as the 23-year-old settles into his first full season with the Wild.
“It was a relieving feeling,” Donato said. “I had a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m the type of guy hopefully if I get one, the floodgates will open from there, and that’s my mind-set.”
What coach Bruce Boudreau noticed about Donato’s goal, a top-shelf one-timer from the slot, was the conviction Donato had in his windup.
“That’s what we think we got in him,” Boudreau said. “We just obviously haven’t seen enough of it at this point.”
Aside from the limited production, Donato has also been a healthy scratch twice — a “tough” start to the season, he acknowledged. But he has tried to keep an upbeat attitude.
“I just want to be a guy that contributes positively to the team,” Donato said.
New voices for radio
There weren’t any new faces in the Wild lineup Tuesday, but someone that night in Anaheim was making his NHL debut.
Joe O’Donnell, the radio announcer for the Iowa Wild in the American Hockey League, called his first NHL game during his 15th year in pro hockey.
“To get this opportunity to do regular-season games,” O’Donnell said, “it’s a dream come true honestly.”
With regular play-by-play voice Bob Kurtz working a reduced road schedule this season, the Wild has tabbed a few different voices to occasionally take over its radio booth — including Vikings play-by-play man Paul Allen, Bob FM’s Jim Erickson and studio host Kevin Falness.
O’Donnell was the first sub, handling the California and Arizona road trip. “It’s been awesome,” he said Friday. “Scoring goals is the best thing for a radio broadcast. The fact the team has scored nine goals now in two games has made my job easy. I’ve always sort of felt the games tell themselves. You’ve got a game, win or lose. I try to bring that enthusiasm and have that energy come across on the airwaves. Two fun games so far.”
After this assignment, O’Donnell will report back to Iowa. But just like the players he covers in the minors who are vying to get to the NHL, he is hoping to get another call-up.
“I would love it,” he said.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk made his first start in a week Saturday against the Coyotes, but he logged his 500th career game Thursday when he came on in relief of backup Alex Stalock.
“It was pretty unceremonious,” Dubnyk said. “But that’s how you get games. It doesn’t matter which way.”
Winger Marcus Foligno was sidelined Saturday because of a lower-body injury. He is considered day-to-day. Victor Rask drew into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the previous three games.
The Wild also played Nick Seeler, dressing seven defensemen, since winger Luke Kunin was out because he was ill.