Wild’s Ryan Suter logs 21 minutes in return to the ice

September 27, 2018

Since joining the Wild on the ice for training camp, defenseman Ryan Suter has been able to prepare for a return to action after suffering a severe ankle injury last season.

Hes absorbed contact in drills and taken reps on the power play.

But what practice hasnt provided is the reassurance that Suter will emerge from his first game unscathed a reality that prompted both sides to reverse course on their original plan to sit Suter for the preseason by inserting him into the lineup Wednesday, a 4-3 win over the Jets at Xcel Energy Center.

The whole idea is for him to come out of it OK rather than that first game sit there [thinking], Am I going to be OK? Am I going to be OK?andthinsp; coach Bruce Boudreau said. Come out now and do it and get it over with and be ready to go next Thursday.

Team personnel approached Suter last week with the audible, and he agreed explaining he was getting sick of practicing and felt well enough to play.

I just feel bad for these guys, Suter said. They are grinding it out, and Im practicing and Im in here early and out of here before they get done. I think its good to play just to be around the guys.

While he hasnt looked out of place on the ice, Suter has been spotted limping after sessions. But he said his right ankle (Suter broke his talus and the outside of his right fibula after he was hit into the boards March 31) has responded better than he imagined.

I thought it would be a lot worse, he said. You guys see me limping around now. Thats after icing, so it stiffens up. Its way harder to walk than it is to skate.

Suter logged 21 minutes, 22 seconds against the Jets and was on the ice for one goal-against.

After the Wild opened the scoring 4 minutes, 36 seconds into the first on a redirection by center Eric Staal, Winnipeg tied it on a one-timer from defenseman Nelson Nogier with 2:53 left in the period.

A Kristian Vesalainen power play goal at 8:49 of the second made it 2-1 before Wild defenseman Greg Pateryn tied it 5:20 later.

With 11 seconds left in the frame, the Jets converted again this time on a carom off defenseman Dustin Byfuglien in front. But a Jason Zucker backhander off the rush on the power play at 6:42 of the third tied it again, setting up the game-winner from defenseman Jared Spurgeon on a wraparound with 4:49 to go.

Goalie Devan Dubnyk finished with 27 saves, while Laurent Brossoit had 24.

Dress rehearsal

With Suter back on the ice, the Wild utilized a lineup Wednesday that was extremely close to the look its likely to debut next week in the season opener against the Avalanche.

The only regular who didnt suit up was center Eric Fehr, who has a spot on the fourth line. Amid Fehrs absence, the Wild slotted veteran Matt Hendricks up the middle and the game could help the Wild decide who nabs the 12th forward spot once the regular season begins Hendricks or J.T. Brown.

Eric has played four games, and weve thought Eric has been as good a forward as weve had in all four games, Boudreau said. Its more looking at these guys to see who warrants probably the start next week.

Despite being idle, winger Matt Reads audition isnt over, and theres still a chance he could work his way onto the roster.

Read has scored a goal in each of his past two games, and his three points were tied for the most on the team entering action Wednesday. The Wilds preseason schedule wraps up Friday with a visit to Colorado.

Im pretty sure hes going to play Friday, Boudreau. And the thing with Matt Read, weve watched him for 10 years [in the NHL with the Flyers]. So its not like we dont know him. Hes done really good. Hes making decisions tough for the people upstairs.

Injury update

Forward Luke Kunin, who continues to recover from a torn ACL, is doing better, Boudreau said and will be evaluated next Tuesday.

Thats an important checkup, Boudreau explained. Hes champing at the bit quite frankly and probably losing his mind wanting to do more. But [hes] staying within the parameters of what everybody wants him to do.

Defenseman Gustav Olofsson, who suffered a shoulder injury during the Wilds first preseason game, has been skating this week.

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