CALGARY, Alberta – Winger Ryan Donato has been living out of hotel rooms since he joined the Wild, on the road with the team and when he’s in St. Paul, but the 22-year-old is planning to move into a more permanent setup soon.
“I can cook meals for myself,” he said. “I think that’ll make a difference.”
What doesn’t look like it needs to change, however, is how Donato is approaching the on-ice side of this new challenge with the Wild — a transition that’s appeared seamless ever since he was acquired from the Bruins Feb. 20 in exchange for forward Charlie Coyle.
“It’s all about the hockey, and it always will be,” Donato said. “It’s a business for me. I put everything else aside and worry about hockey and focus on hockey. That’s when I play my best. I think that’s the best way I can help the team.”
Donato scored in the third period of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Calgary, giving him two goals and five assists in his first five games with the Wild. His five-game point streak is tied with teammate Zach Parise for the second-longest for a player starting his Wild career, one game behind the late Pavol Demitra. On Tuesday, Donato had two assists in the 3-2 victory at Winnipeg, the second of which came on Jason Zucker’s tying goal late in the third period.
Donato has relied on his parents to prepare him for what it’s like to settle in with a new group after a trade, especially his dad, Ted Donato, who was traded three times during his NHL career, but the opportunities the Wild has given him to make an impact — on the power play and late in games — have also helped.
“If I’m put in those situations, the more comfortable I’ll get in those situations,” Donato said.
Although the Wild used two recent practices to familiarize new faces Donato and winger Kevin Fiala with the team’s structure, coach Bruce Boudreau hasn’t overwhelmed anyone with instruction — instead wanting players to utilize their natural skill sets.
“We want them to use not only their versatility but their creativeness,” Boudreau explained. “So far he’s been very good at it.”
Despite practicing Friday and showing no limitations after blocking a Jacob Trouba shot with his foot in the win over the Jets on Tuesday, Parise didn’t suit up against the Flames on Saturday.
“Probably a better chance” he draws in when the Wild returns home to face the Predators on Sunday, Boudreau said.
The Wild already had winger Matt Read on hand, recalling him from the American Hockey League on Friday on an emergency basis in the event Parise couldn’t play, and Read slotted into the lineup.
“He’s been in this position before and as a veteran,” Boudreau said. “I thought at this point of the year it’d probably be better for him to be up here than somebody else.”
This is Read’s second stint with the Wild this season, as he also logged five games in October before returning to the minors where the former Bemidji State forward totaled 15 goals and 31 points in 50 games.
“Just focused more on creating more speed and more offense down there,” Read said. “Get back to that complete game. I was playing strong defensively and take advantage when you can offensively. Just working on playing a lot faster.”
Raised to the rafters
Ahead of puck drop Saturday, the Flames retired former captain Jarome Iginla’s No. 12 during a pregame ceremony both teams took in from their benches.
Iginla, who announced his retirement last summer, is the Flames’ franchise leader in a host of categories including games played (1,219), goals (525), points (1,095) and game-winning goals (83). He also has recorded more career goals (39), points (72) and game-winners (10) against the Wild than any other NHLer.
“He did everything hard,” Boudreau said. “There’s not too many guys that could score, could skate, could fight, could lead like he did. He did it for a long time, and even at the end, he was still a pretty dangerous player. When you were playing against him, you had to worry about him. This is a great night for him, and it’s well-warranted.”