For the second time in a week, Wild center Ryan Donato was ushered into action after he was supposed to be a healthy scratch.
But on Saturday, he got more of a heads-up.
“I was lucky to be able to get to know in time this time and get ready to play,” Donato said.
With captain Mikko Koivu dealing with illness, Donato found out Saturday afternoon he’d be playing later that evening – this after he had to suit up Tuesday in Pittsburgh to join a game already in progress because the Wild accidentally mixed up its lineup card and listed him as active instead of defenseman Greg Pateryn.
Donato was a limited participant that evening, a 7-3 loss for the Wild, but he was much more involved Saturday against the Stars – scoring a goal and adding an assist in a 7-0 triumph at Xcel Energy Center.
“It's definitely motivating,” Donato said of the late-arriving opportunity, “but I think that's the type of game I can always play. I just gotta be good in the chance, and today I was lucky to have it. Obviously, Mikko is a great asset for our team and it was tough to see him go. But when somebody goes down, the next guy's gotta step up.”
Donato slotted in Koivu’s previous spot on the fourth line and although he was a factor – getting off six shots and adding a hit – it’s unclear if the performance was enough for him to stick in the lineup once Koivu feels better.
“I thought he played really well today, and let’s see where he goes on Monday,” coach Bruce Boudreau said, referring to the Wild’s next game against the Panthers. “Let’s see what happens.”
Donato capitalizing on unexpected minutes wasn’t the only positive for the Wild.
The game was brimming with them.
Winger Jason Zucker recorded his first points since returning from a broken leg last Sunday, scoring a goal and adding two assists. His goal was a centering feed that bounced off a Dallas defender and into the net.
“Just trying to be around the net,” he said. “Obviously, my goal was a pass. Sometimes when you're around the net, those things just happen. I wanted to have an emphasis on shooting pucks, which was my second assist with [Mats Zuccarello] there. It's good to have that. You've just got to follow it up. I think it was a good step.”
Not only was the defensive effort clean, but the blue line contributed offensively – racking up two goals and four assists.
Jared Spurgeon’s game-winner was his first this season and 14th all-time, moving him into sole possession of first place for game-winning goals by a defenseman. He was previously tied with Brent Burns.
And goalie Alex Stalock was superb, building off a strong showing Thursday in the 3-2 win over the Lightning.
Stalock made 27 saves for his second shutout of the season, and a key stop on a first-period Dallas breakaway came seconds before Spurgeon’s opening tally.
The goalie was also at the center of drama in the third period, with both teams getting in a scrum behind the net after the Stars’ Corey Perry collided with Stalock after Stalock made a save.
“How much time’s left on the clock?” Stalock said. “It’s a 6- or 7-nothing game. I don’t know why you can’t help yourself there. It’s clearly a knee to the head. It was only a week or two ago it’s not even three minutes into an outdoor game, he elbows a guy in the head. He can’t help himself. Hopefully they look at it. There’s no need for it. He knows he’s wrong. He knows he’s making a bad play. It’s stupid.”