Two exhibition games on back-to-back nights have produced zero fights from Kurtis Gabriel.
What’s the deal from a guy who has combined for 27 American Hockey League fights the past two seasons?
Frankly, the Wild brass by this point knows the 6-4 winger is as tough as they come, so Gabriel has come to camp intent on trying to show everybody he can play the game.
“[Coach Bruce Boudreau] said he wants a fourth line that can play,” Gabriel said. “He’s said that many times. So, I’m just showing that I can contribute on a fourth line and not have to be rushed off the ice.”
Gabriel, who skated during Tuesday’s 4-1 preseason loss to the Colorado Avalanche, scored the tying goal Monday against Buffalo.
“He did a good job,” Boudreau said. “He controlled the puck in the corners. He played a simple game, which is what you want. At Braemar [the past few weeks], he ended up scoring a lot of goals. He has a pretty good shot. It’s underestimated.”
Since last month, Boudreau has told reporters that Gabriel would have a legitimate shot to earn a spot out of camp. He has made that clear to Gabriel, too.
“I’ve been here a while working out, and Bruce always comes in during our workouts and pulls guys aside,” Gabriel said. “He loves to talk about hockey, just wants to talk all the time. Every day, he’ll say something different, ‘You’re going to be in a lot of preseason games, get your looks. So be ready.’ ”
The Wild is expected to have a big cutdown day Wednesday. Gabriel surely will survive.
He’s highly respected by the brass. That was proved last postseason when he played four games against the Dallas Stars after only three regular-season games.
Gabriel said it was a huge confidence booster heading into the offseason.
“Instead of coming up playing against tough teams, I got to come up and play against the highest-scoring team in the league and play a decent amount — and play a physical game but not actually fight,” Gabriel said. “They said as soon as I came up, ‘You’re not here to do that. Just play the game, skate, we trust you.’ ”
Added General Manager Chuck Fletcher, “I think everyone saw the impact Kurtis had in the Dallas series. I thought the momentum in that series changed once we inserted him in that series. He’s now a third-year pro. There are elements he can bring to our team in terms of speed, the ability to forecheck, aggressiveness.
“We’re trying to become a better pressuring team up the ice, and Gabriel’s a guy that can help us get to that game.”
• Ryan Carter, a Wild player the past two seasons, continues to have a sense of humor about his pro tryout with the team.
When a reporter asked Tuesday morning if has had any advice for the youngsters, the veteran cracked, “I’m on a PTO, so I don’t want to give these guys too much info.”
• Defenseman Gustav Olofsson (knee) is expected to start skating in the next few days.
• Victor Bartley, who has one goal in 121 career NHL games and was signed to be a depth defenseman, scored the lone goal for Minnesota.