The Wild, after losing its first four games for the first time in franchise history, recalled forward Gerald Mayhew from its AHL affiliate in Iowa on Sunday. Mayhew, who earned praise for his consistently strong play in training camp, arrived in time to practice and traveled with the team to Ottawa.
Iowa’s top scorer this season with three goals and three assists, Mayhew, 26, has not played an NHL game. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau isn’t sure how soon that might happen, but he likes what the 5-10 forward brings.
“He’s been [Iowa’s] best player,’’ Boudreau said. “He’s definitely earned the reward to be up here.”
A former college star at Ferris State, Mayhew will wear No. 26 with the Wild.
“Whatever role they want me to play, I’ll be able to do,’’ he said. “Every time I go on the ice, I want to make an impact.”
Wild defenseman Brad Hunt used a poker analogy to address the problem. To break its distressing habit of allowing multiple goals in quick succession, Hunt said the Wild cannot “fold its cards” after its opponent scores.
Boudreau looked to another sport. Like a golfer who hits a shot into the water, he said the Wild has to move on immediately when it is scored upon, putting the disappointment behind it as fast as possible.
The Wild discussed that issue again Sunday, as it prepared for a three-game road trip that begins Monday at Ottawa. In Saturday’s 7-4 loss to Pittsburgh, the Penguins scored three times in a span of 2 minutes, 28 seconds. Winnipeg struck twice in 28 seconds, Colorado got two goals in 1:27 and Nashville potted a pair in 1:29.
“It seems like when we get scored on, it’s like, ‘Here we go again,’ ” winger Marcus Foligno said. “That crushes you, because it’s hurting our momentum and building theirs. We seem to sit back and hope for a bounce our way, and you just can’t do that.”
Hunt said the players have talked about the importance of responding to opponents’ goals with a more tenacious shift, rather than dwelling on the score. The issue has been raised every day, Boudreau added.
“It’s all up here,” he said, tapping his head. “You’ve got to forget about it. It’s over. The next line you put out there has got to be a line that wants to push the energy.”
Lines still fluid
Contrary to how it might seem, Boudreau said he hates changing line combinations. That said, he did it again Sunday, trying to spark a team struggling on offense and defense.
Ryan Hartman and Foligno — whom Boudreau called the Wild’s best players in Saturday’s loss — were separated, in the hope they can energize two lines rather than just one. Hartman practiced Sunday with Eric Staal and Kevin Fiala, while Foligno was with Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin. Jason Zucker was shifted from the left side to the right on a line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise.
Ryan Donato moved back to center, where he split time with Victor Rask on the fourth line. They were flanked by Mayhew and Jordan Greenway.
Boudreau envisions the Eriksson Ek trio as “a very viable checking energy line” and said he thought Rask played “pretty well” in his season debut Saturday. He also believes Greenway, who has no points and is minus-2, “is lost a little bit right now.”
• Winger Mats Zuccarello did not practice Sunday, and his status for Monday’s game is uncertain. Boudreau was vague about what was ailing Zuccarello, saying only that the forward has “bumps and bruises” and that it happened in Saturday’s game. If Zuccarello is able to play, Boudreau said, he will be in the lineup.
• Boudreau did not reveal who will start in goal Monday, but he said backup Alex Stalock will play at least one game during the trip. The Wild plays at Toronto on Tuesday and at Montreal on Thursday.