SUNRISE, Fla. – The Wild plans to switch up its goaltender at the beginning of its three-game road trip, tabbing Kaapo Kahkonen to face the Panthers Tuesday in Florida.
Alex Stalock, who has been handling the bulk of the minutes since No.1 Devan Dubnyk has been away from the team amid a medical situation with his wife, made the previous two starts.
“I wanted to get him in,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of Kahkonen. “He deserved a game after the Jersey game, and I thought that this would the spot and I told him a couple days ago that he was playing today to get ready for it.”
In his last appearance a week ago in New Jersey against the Devils, the 23-year-old made 32 saves for his first career win in his NHL debut.
“I felt pretty good all game,” Kahkonen said. “I think the last week or 10 days, whatever it’s been that I’ve been up here, helps a lot. You’ve got all those reps, practices and morning skates. It kind of helps you prepare for every game. So, I’ll just try to keep building on that.”
That isn’t the only lineup change the Wild will make.
Center Victor Rask will return to the fourth line, replacing winger Ryan Donato.
Last game, Donato centered wingers Marcus Foligno and Ryan Hartman and committed two penalties in the 3-2 shootout win over the Stars. But Boudreau said that wasn’t the reason Donato is getting subbed out.
“I just told Ryan. I said, ‘It had nothing to do with the penalties because I put you out in the third period and you guys did good. You got us a power play, and you cultivated chances,’” Boudreau said. “So, it’s more … Rask didn’t deserve to sit out either. So, we’ll take it as it goes and then we’ll see after tonight and make decisions not long-term but short-term.”
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Marcus Foligno-Victor Rask-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy-Brad Hunt
1: Goal for winger Zach Parise in each of his last four games.
98: Career assists for Foligno.
23: Second-period goals for the Wild over its past 14 games.
17: Wins for the Wild vs. the Panthers in franchise history, which is the third-most again against the Eastern Conference.
4: Assists for winger Kevin Fiala over his last four outings.
About the Panthers:
Florida is currently second in the Atlantic Division with 13 wins and 31 points. The team snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday by shutting out Nashville 3-0. Overall, the Panthers went 7-5-1 in November. With his goal Saturday, forward Aleksander Barkov surpassed Nathan Horton for the fifth-most goals in franchise history. Winger Brett Connolly leads the Panthers in goals this season with 12.