PITTSBURGH – Marco Scandella said he was at peace with his decision to leave his father's bedside Friday and return to the Wild.
The 25-year-old defenseman, who was away from the Wild for two games and one week, thanked the team for letting him return to Montreal so he could say "goodbye" to his father, Francesco, who was born and raised in Italy but emigrated to Canada, where he worked in construction and as an electrician. Francesco is in the final stages of prostate cancer.
"I wouldn't be where I am today without him," said Scandella, one of four children to Francesco and Sandra Scandella. "My family's going to miss him. … It's tough saying goodbye. It's not an easy situation, but at least I got to say goodbye to him. I definitely learned a lot from him. He taught me most of what I know today.
"I'm just going to have to keep proving his name and being a great person, a great player and just doing what he taught me."
Scandella, whose voiced cracked and eyes welled with tears as he spoke after the Wild's morning skate Tuesday, said it was time to concentrate on hockey. Saturday in Dallas, Scandella scored a third-period tying goal to force overtime.
"Definitely scored that goal for him," Scandella said. "I have a lot to thank to my dad. It's a tough situation, but I just have to keep playing hard."
Scandella said he's going to remain with the team when his dad passes away. His family will do something formally next summer so Scandella can memorialize his dad.
"I'm here with the team to stay. My dad's wishes will be met," Scandella said. "It was a tough week, and just seeing the guys, we have a great group of guys in here and really supportive, and it was just great to get back with everybody."
Keranen makes debut
Michael Keranen, named the best player in the Finish Elite League in 2013-14 after tying for first with 52 points, finally made his NHL debut Tuesday against the Penguins. He played left wing on a line with Charlie Coyle and Jordan Schroeder.
The Iowa Wild's leading scorer got goals in weekend games after returning from a sprained medial collateral knee ligament. Keranen, 25, said "my goal is to be here" in the NHL, which is why he re-signed last summer despite not playing in the NHL last season.
"I give him credit because he could have gone back to Europe," coach Mike Yeo said. "Things didn't work out and he probably had expectations of filling in right away, but he stuck with it."
•Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta left Tuesday's game because of what looked to be a serious leg injury after being pushed into the frame of an open Wild bench door by Nino Niederreiter.
"It's unfortunate the whole situation," Niederreiter said. "You never want to see anything like that. Obviously I feel bad. … Those plays happen so many times. Super bad luck unfortunately. If the door is closed, nothing happens."
•Keranen debuted because center Erik Haula was ill. Yeo said if Haula feels better Wednesday, he might rejoin the Wild in Boston for Thursday's game.
Ryan Carter moved to Haula's center spot and Brett Bulmer made his season debut.
•Schroeder, who took a puck to the face Thursday at Carolina, wore a full facial cage because he was high-sticked during Monday's practice.