VANCOUVER – Nobody expected Ryan Suter to play during Sunday’s Super Bowl matinee against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Wild defenseman was less than 50-50, coach Mike Yeo indicated the day before, and in fact had met with General Manager Chuck Fletcher and the two decided that a nagging lower-body injury would need rest so it doesn’t become a bigger problem.
“We were going to give it a break. But I felt better,” Suter said after logging 27 minutes, 55 seconds during a 4-2 win over the Canucks. “Yesterday when I went to sleep, I didn’t think I was going to play. This morning I woke up and it felt good.”
So Suter, who had missed the two previous practices and an off-ice workout at the team hotel Friday, arrived before game time and told coaches he was playing. One problem? His equipment was packed up on the equipment truck.
That sent trainers into a scramble.
“They were all unpacking it quickly as we were having meetings,” Suter said, chuckling. “Everybody was looking around like, ‘What’s going on?’ But it worked out good.”
With the Wild trying to preserve a one-goal lead in the waning seconds, Suter assisted on Jason Zucker’s empty-net goal during a 1-minute, 13-second shift.
“It was long, but it’s all mental,” Suter said. “It’s easy to say when you win, but just bear down and don’t think about the injury.”
Yeo said: “It shows you what a competitor he is. And really, he showed no signs of not feeling 100 percent. You look at that last shift when they had the goalie out and we ice it and at that time I had already used my timeout, so it wasn’t like I could use my timeout and rest those guys.
“And he’s still winning races, he’s still winning battles, and that’s impressive.”
Suter, after a tough December and first half of January, has played four strong games in a row (three assists, plus-4). He was a big reason why the Wild swept its trip to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
“It was a big trip,” Suter said. “Where we are right now, we have to keep going. We can’t be satisfied.”
Dare to interfere
The Canucks’ Alex Edler had a goal disallowed in the third period when Radim Vrbata, who barely made contact with Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, was called for not allowing Dubnyk to play his position.
The play was ruled a good goal until Dubnyk complained and the four officials conversed.
“It’s a great call,” Dubnyk said. “I’m glad they talked about it. It’s not an easy call to make because he moves as the shot’s taken, but Edler’s a lefthanded shot and he’s on the wall. Vrbata’s in the crease and I can’t get in my crease where I need to be to make that save.
“You can see it best from the overhead. He moves so it doesn’t look like he interfered with me as the puck goes in, but I couldn’t make the save because I couldn’t get to where I needed to be to make the save in the first place. It’s a good call because it’s not an easy one to make. It would be easy for them to say he moved, but if you watch it, especially from the overhead, it was a great call.”
• In a rarity, Wild assistant coach Darryl Sydor got to watch the junior team he owns a piece of play in person Saturday night. Kamloops, Dubnyk’s old team, beat Vancouver in a Western Hockey League game. Sydor owns Kamloops with Colorado Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla, Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan, former NHLer Mark Recchi and Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi.
• Center Erik Haula, scratched in the previous two games, replaced injured Justin Fontaine (groin). Kyle Brodziak moved to right wing. Defenseman Christian Folin was scratched.