ST. LOUIS – As a fourth-liner on the Wild, Chris Porter “obviously knows I’m not getting out there on the power play.” So the former St. Louis Blues winger embraces the penalty kill.
So far this year, Porter’s been quite good at it even though the Wild’s penalty kill has been near the bottom of the league (27th in the NHL at 77.3 percent) since opening night.
Despite seeing the third-most shorthanded ice time among forwards (40 minutes, 26 seconds), Porter has been on the ice for only two of the Wild’s 20 power-play goals against. Those 20 goals are actually the sixth-fewest allowed in the NHL, but the Wild has been shorthanded 88 times (second-fewest in the NHL).
Porter said pre-scout meetings with assistant coach Rick Wilson are a big help.
“You learn the tendencies of the opposing power plays, but work ethic is huge,” Porter said. “Honestly, it’s just a mind-set. You’ve got to outwork the power play.
“Everybody on the PK accepts that role and cherishes that role. We want to make an impact on the game as much as the power play does. It’s something I take pride in. I think everybody does. If you get a great kill, it can set the momentum for the rest of the game.”
Porter is currently playing on a banged-up fourth line. Monday against Detroit, he went down the tunnel with athletic trainer John Worley three times in an attempt to find a pad to protect his side. He has been playing hurt since being checked into the dasher against Dallas on Dec. 22. On his second shift Thursday against his former team, Porter received a large cut on his chin from an uncalled Kevin Shattenkirk high-stick. He received eight stitches, and one tooth was sheared in half.
Ryan Carter is playing through a hand injury, and Jarret Stoll took a shot painfully off the leg Monday.
“Everybody’s injured throughout the year. It happens to be our turn,” Porter said.
Zach Parise missed Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury but took part in the morning skate.
“I don’t expect this to be a huge, lingering, long-term thing,” coach Mike Yeo said.
The team will see how the injury responds before deciding whether Parise can practice Friday afternoon in Tampa.
“We just want to make sure that he gets the rest that’s required here and gets himself feeling back closer to 100 percent,” Yeo said. “He always wants to play. He’s a competitor, and it’s hard for those guys not to be playing.”
Thomas Vanek began Thursday’s game by taking Parise’s spot on the Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line. Defenseman Marco Scandella took Parise’s spot in the right circle on the No. 1 power play.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk said his cut right wrist is “very manageable now. It won’t affect me at all. Just more annoying than anything when it gets hit in practice.”
Asked if teammates are aiming at his blocker, Dubnyk joked: “Some guys are. You learn a lot about a few guys and how their minds work when you have a hole in your wrist and they still continue to fire at it as hard as they can. I won’t name anybody, but there are a couple.”
Dubnyk will soon be breaking in a new blocker and pads. He also has a mask with an outdoor theme being specially designed for the Stadium Series game Feb. 21.
Scandella has been on the ice a team-high 11 power-play goals against. Jonas Brodin and Erik Haula have been on for nine each.