ST. LOUIS – Marcus Foligno didn't play Friday night against the Blues, but the veteran winger made the trip to St. Louis after being sidelined because of injury for the past month.
Foligno will be monitored to see if he can suit up Saturday when the Wild finishes off a back-to-back against the Blues before the three-game series shifts to St. Paul on Monday, but coach Dean Evason felt Foligno just skating with the team Friday morning would provide a boost.
"His energy level, his presence is a lift for the group regardless if he's playing," Evason said of Foligno, who has been out since taking a shot off the lower right leg on March 12. "He just has that team mentality, that team first, that grit, that bite that leads a hockey club."
Different workload, same approach
Kaapo Kahkonen's workload has eased up, with Friday's start just his second over the past 10 games, but the rookie goalie doesn't think his game has changed from earlier in the season when he was almost unbeatable while playing regularly.
"Be patient, make the right reads and help the 'D' out as much as I can by talking or communicating, playing the puck maybe," he said. "Yeah, try to do the same thing that I always do."
Victor Rask is known for being the defensive anchor at 5-on-5 when he's skating with rookie Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, a line that was reunited Wednesday when the Wild overwhelmed Colorado 8-3 before getting separated to start Friday's game against the Blues.
But on the power play, Rask is emerging as a playmaker along the half-wall — helping set up three goals Wednesday, including a redirect by Kaprizov off a stealthy feed by Rask.
"He wasn't on the power play at the start of the year, and he wasn't likely playing as much as clearly he is now," Evason said. "He's taken charge of the opportunity that's presented to him."
Luke Johnson's first NHL goal Wednesday came in front of his family, as his parents, sister and brother were at Xcel Energy Center that night to witness the milestone in person.
"It was nice to have them down," Johnson said.
Initially slotted in the lineup when the Wild's manpower took a hit from injury, suspension and the NHL's COVID protocols, Johnson has found a niche at center on the fourth line, playing a seventh straight game Friday.
"He works hard," Ryan Hartman said. "He's got a great shot. I've been with him for a while; I was with him in Chicago. Not just on the ice, but he works really hard off the ice. He's always on the bike, always preparing for these nights. So pretty happy for him to get the first one."
Wild prospect Matt Boldy made his pro debut Friday with Iowa in the AHL on a day where he was named an All-America. The forward turned pro last week, leaving Boston College and signing a three-year, entry-level contract with the Wild that kicked in immediately. He had a goal and an assist in his debut.
•Nick Bjugstad, who has been out with an upper-body injury since fighting the Avalanche's Kyle Burroughs on Monday, didn't make the trip to St. Louis.