ST. PAUL, Minn. — Jason Pominville has had to sit and watch his Minnesota Wild teammates take on the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs.
Pominville, Minnesota’s big trade-deadline acquisition, isn’t watching any longer.
Pominville, out with an “upper-body injury” after taking an elbow to the face during a game on April 23, returned for the Wild in Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs with the Chicago Blackhawks. Pominville, who skated with his teammates for the second straight day in Tuesday’s morning skate, was a game-time decision and ended up playing 12 minutes, 12 seconds in the 3-0 loss in Game 4.
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Pominville, who scored four goals and had five assists in 10 games after bring acquired at the trade deadline by Minnesota, played 8:23 of his time Tuesday on the power play and had three shots, going scoreless. The Wild’s power play was 0 for 6 Tuesday and is now 0 for 15 in the series.
“Obviously he’s missed a little bit of time here, so for him to get out there and start to get a little bit of his timing back…,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said of Pominville’s return. “I thought as the game went on, his game got better too, so I think that helps us definitely going into the next game.”
The Wild trail Chicago 3-1 in the series following Tuesday’s loss.
Pominville, one of the team’s most playoff-experienced veterans, has just been trying to get back.
“I’m just doing my best, trying to get the proper treatment done, doing my best to get back to where I need to be, and that decision will be up to the coach, but I’m headed in the right direction, that’s for sure,” Pominville said after Tuesday’s morning skate, before the decision on his return had been made.
Pominville had missed five games since Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown elbowed him in the face on April 23. Pominville went down immediately and seemed woozy while skating off the ice.
Brown wasn’t penalized on the play, but was later suspended for two games. Speaking to reporters for the first time since the injury, Pominville took issue with Brown’s use of his elbow.
“Obviously, not happy about the hit, but at the same time I know he’s a guy that plays hard and hits hard,” Pominville said. “But I just don’t think the elbows are needed when you try to hit a guy, but that’s just unfortunate that it happened.”
Pominville missed the final two games of the regular season and the first three games of the first round against the Western Conference’s top seed.
“It’s been tough,” Pominville said when asked about the injury. “Obviously not being on the ice the best time of the year has not been easy. It’s been a tough rehab. A few things have gone different ways, but I think I’ll prefer to comment on those once the season is over.”
Pominville said he has been skating on his own prior to the past two days with the team and said Tuesday it “felt pretty good.”
Pominville was doing battle drills along the boards with defenseman Nate Prosser during practice, testing himself against contact. Pominville had returned to practice prior to Game 1, but then was held out the following days.
“I think that’s the tough part about this whole playoff thing, that guys don’t practice that much,” Pominville said. “And when there is practices it’s optional skates and travel days and morning skates so you don’t really get a feel for five-on-five play or special teams or whatever it may be. So just being able to get engaged in battles a little bit today and yesterday was nice.”