WEDNESDAY’S STORY LINES: When the Minnesota Wild go for their seventh straight win Wednesday, they will use the same lineup that took the ice Monday in a 7-4 victory over Dallas. That includes hard-nosed forward Cal Clutterbuck. Many were surprised to see Clutterbuck on the bench to start the third period of the Dallas game after he had a nasty collision with the net in the second period. Clutterbuck had to be helped off and was not able to put any weight on his right leg.
Clutterbuck said the lower part of his leg caught the post pretty hard. Wednesday morning, he said it is still “a little painful” but that he will be available to play Wednesday.
“When it happened, I probably wouldn’t have expected to be able to go back,” Clutterbuck said. “It was weird; I was having a lot of difficulty walking, and I just decided to throw my skate on and see how that would go and it turned out it was a lot less painful skating then it was walking. Fortunate enough for me I was able to kind of skate well enough to compete.”
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Clutterbuck didn’t simply come back — he added two third-period assists and set up Kyle Brodziak’s shorthanded game winner.
“Happy to see him come back out and then just go out and continue to compete the way he does,” coach Mike Yeo said. “That was uplifting for sure.”
The Wild have also have been getting strong play from goalie Niklas Backstrom, who has started every game during the team’s winning streak. Even though he gave up four goals in Dallas, the Finnish goalie has gone 14-3-1 with a 2.10 GAA in his last 18 games. Yeo will continue to ride the hot hand Wednesday with Backstrom. Despite starting 15 of the last 16 games, Backstrom has been getting appropriate rest.
“I think we have to make it a priority that we make sure we get him rest and not wear him down,” Yeo said. “He is a guy who that takes phenomenal care of himself and prepares extremely well, the way he takes care of himself physically and mentally. We have to make sure in between game days we are giving him that opportunity to refuel his tank, so to speak, but having said that, I think it’s an important message to send the team that every game is meaningful, so you want to put the best team on the ice.”