WASHINGTON — A night after benching Jujhar Khaira committed a couple of bad turnovers in the Wild’s end in a 6-2 loss at Philadelphia, the winger was a healthy scratch for Friday’s game against the Capitals.
Khaira essentially didn’t play after passing the puck to the opponent twice in one shift, and head coach Dean Evason was asked before a 6 p.m. puck drop at Capital One Arena if that was the reason he didn’t play Friday.
“Nope,” Evason said. “Because we’d sit the whole team.”
The Wild entered the second of back-to-backs with losses in three of their previous four games (1-2-1), and Evason saved most of his pregame ire for the top line of Kirill Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello. After combining for 10 points in a comeback victory over Edmonton on Tuesday, they were a combined minus-7 against the Flyers.
“They were really bad last night,” Evason said. “They were awful.”
The trio combined for 10 shots on goal, none of which found the net, and, officially, five giveaways. One of those turnovers erased some vital momentum after the Wild pulled within 3-2 early in the third period.
Kaprizov was on the blue line when he skated backwards and was picked by Cam Atkinson, who sent the put ahead to a streaking Owen Tippett for a breakaway goal that started a late three-goal assault.
“We spoke to them and they’re very accountable,” Evason said. “But I would say you have to bring it every night. If you’re gonna be leaders on our hockey club, and you’re gonna play the most minutes, you’d better do the most things right — and they did not.”
Before that game, Evason acknowledged that the coaching staff had discussed breaking up the line, at least temporarily, and the line responded by exploding in a 7-4 victory over Edmonton on Tuesday. Hartman had a hat trick and two assists, Kaprizov three assists and Zuccarello a goal and assist.
Evason said the entire team would watch video of the Flyers game before taking the ice against the Capitals.
“We turned the puck over … I don’t know the exact number, but it’s 40-something,” he said. “We will be addressing that here before the game.”
Debut for Hunt
Without Khaira, the Wild were left to play with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, meaning Daemon Hunt was set to make his NHL debut. He was recalled for emergency purposes before the three-game trip that ends Sunday in New Jersey.
Six-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Hunt was the third pick in the third round of the 2020 draft and spent all of last season at AHL Iowa.
“He’s a very calm guy,” Evason said. “He’s very mature. He’ll be ready to go.”
Evason said he didn’t plan for any of his blue liners to play offensive shifts against the Capitals.
The Wild are short because they’re without injured core players Jared Spurgeon, Matt Boldy, Alex Goligoski and Freddy Gaudreau. Evason said Wednesday that Boldy (upper body) is the closest to returning.
Defensemen Spurgeon (upper) and Goligoski (lower) are on long-term injured reserve, and Gaudreau was pulled back from this trip with an upper body injury that has been bothering suffered when he was leveled by Ryan Reaves Oct. 14 in Toronto.