LOS ANGELES – Calen Addison had the Staples Center ice to himself for a bit before puck drop Tuesday, skating a few laps solo at the start of warmups before the rest of his Wild teammates and the Kings joined him on the ice.
And he didn't stay off the ice much once the game started because the Wild didn't shy away from using Addison in his NHL debut.
The defenseman logged the third-most minutes on the Wild blue line despite being the least experienced, skating 19 minutes, 41 seconds in the team's 4-0 loss to Los Angeles in its return after a two-week hiatus caused by a COVID-19 outbreak.
"It was awesome," Addison said of his first game. "I've been dreaming of this moment my whole life. Just to step foot on that ice for the first time was the best feeling of my life, for sure."
Paired with veteran Ryan Suter, Addison was a fixture for the Wild – getting tabbed for the starting lineup, playing on the power play and even earning ice time late in the game as the Wild vied to break Kings goalie Jonathan Quick's shutout bid.
Overall, Addison put two shots on goal, had another one blocked, blocked one himself and was on the ice for only one Los Angeles goal – an empty-netter by Drew Doughty with 37 seconds left in the third period.
"We thought he was real good, real poised, real calm," coach Dean Evason said. "When we had him on the power play and even 5-on-5, we thought he conducted himself extremely well."
While the night will be a memorable one for Addison, it was forgettable for the Wild.
The team sagged in its first game since Feb.2, relying on a patchwork lineup that was missing nine regulars.
Aside from being behind the pace early in the first period, the Wild had a tough time putting on a consistent push in the offensive zone. Not until late in the game, in the third period, did the team finally do a better job of funneling pucks and bodies to the net. But Quick was locked in, turning aside all 28 shots he saw.
"There were some times I felt tired," said winger Marcus Foligno, who was out with COVID-19 during the Wild's layoff. "It was tough. It was tough to battle that, just being off for so long. And I know you jump into practice and I got more practices than a lot of guys did coming back from the protocols, but it is what it is. I didn't have a great game, and you just feel a little bit tired the longer you go in shifts. You feel it."
The Wild's struggles on the power play were waiting for the team once it restarted the season.
After blanking on three tries Tuesday, the unit is now 3-for-45 and ranks last in the NHL.
Evason scrambled the top three forward lines in the third period, notably reuniting Foligno with Jordan Greenway and Joel Eriksson Ek – the team's best line earlier this season.
But more changes could be on the way.
The Wild is expecting to get forwards Nick Bonino and Nico Sturm back for Thursday's game at Anaheim, with the two – along with defenseman Ian Cole – slated to practice with the team Wednesday. The three were released from the NHL's COVID protocols on Monday.
"We didn't see a lot of chemistry basically with any of the lines, so we just kind of went back to what we know and what's been success," Evason said of his third-period changes. "[Greenway, Eriksson Ek and Foligno] kept that puck in a few times and did what they've done when they've been together. We had some nice looks with them, at least controlled some play down there and gained some momentum.
"Obviously, we got hopefully some other people coming back, so we're going to have to revisit the line combinations."