GLENDALE, ARIZ. – Kaapo Kahkonen's spot with the Wild was solidified this week, with the goaltender locking up the team's backup duties after Alex Stalock was claimed off waivers by Edmonton.
But the job security hasn't changed Kahkonen's outlook.
"I'm treating everything the same way," he said. "Just trying to focus one game at a time here."
That approach seems to be working for the rookie, who was back between the pipes Friday for the first half of a back-to-back against Arizona after starter Cam Talbot handled the first two games on the road trip.
At the time the Wild placed Stalock on waivers, Kahkonen was coming off his fifth straight win and a run in which he had stopped 128 of 137 shots — steadiness that has become a hallmark of the 24-year-old's play since his debut with the Wild last season.
"[I'm] trying to be calm and trying to get square and beat the pass," Kahkonen said. "If there's a cross-ice pass, just get there before the puck gets there. Just not chase the game."
Even if the Wild chose to keep Stalock on its roster and carry three goalies instead of subjecting Stalock to waivers — a necessary precursor to get him to the minors for longer than a conditioning loan or on the taxi squad — it would have been tough to shake up the depth chart with how well Kahkonen has performed.
"His practice habits are never giving up on a puck," coach Dean Evason said. "That translates into a game. He's never out of a play no matter where the puck is or where it's going. He's going to battle to get there."
And it's possible this is just the beginning of a permanent stint with the Wild.
"I feel confident," Kahkonen said. "I felt good about my game. I feel like I belong [in] the NHL. It's still a work in progress. You've got to work every day and every night you get to play. You have to play your best."
Zach Parise was back in the lineup Friday after he was a healthy scratch Wednesday for the first time in his Wild career.
The benching came after an extended shift for Parise in the 5-4 overtime loss Monday at Vegas, a miscue that coincided with the Golden Knights' game-tying goal. Parise said he was trying to help Marcus Foligno score an empty-net goal for a hat trick and felt it wasn't a good idea for him to go for a line change like Foligno did.
Parise was disappointed with the Wild's decision to sit him and disagreed with it. Evason had a "great meeting" with Parise before Friday's game and said, "We're going forward."
The Wild made another change to its lineup, subbing Brad Hunt in on defense for Carson Soucy. This was Hunt's sixth game this season and first since Feb. 2 at Colorado.
"I approach every day like I'm playing, and my attitude doesn't change," Hunt said. "I feel like that helps me when I'm in this position. Obviously, when you haven't played in a while, certain things take a second to get back into it. But if your whole mental attitude is like you're playing every day, then nothing really changes."
Not only was the switch made to get Hunt game action, but the swap was also reflective of Soucy's play, with Evason believing the 26-year-old still needs to refine his consistency.
"What we like about his game and when it's really good, it's really urgent," Evason said. "It's really heavy, and it's really hard. If he brings that each and every night, clearly, he's going to give our hockey club an opportunity to have success."
Ryan Hartman missed a second consecutive game with a lower-body injury.
"We're hoping he's not out very long," Evason said.