The Wild gave fans a treat on Sunday. Instead of the usual drills in what has become an annual outdoor fall practice, Minnesota staged a 3-on-3 scrimmage at the Recreation Outdoor Center in St. Louis Park.
As an additional surprise, the overflow crowd got to see Jared Spurgeon on the rink, skating in competitive hockey.
Spurgeon’s white jerseys, featuring teammates as Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zucarello and Jonas Brodin, rallied from a 5-2 deficit to edge a green team featuring Matt Boldy, Ryan Hartman and Joel Eriksson Ek, 6-5.
It was the first time since preseason games that any fans were able to see Spurgeon competing, and the veteran defenseman is set to travel to New York on Monday for a three-game road trip.
That doesn’t mean he’ll play against the Islanders on Tuesday night.
“I don’t know,” coach Dean Evason said. “Obviously, he’s progressing to the point he can be out there playing this (but) he’s still not in contract drills, so we’ll see how he progresses. … We’ll obviously have to evaluate day by day.”
Injured veterans Freddy Gaudreau (upper body) and Alex Goligoski (lower body) were at what has become a family event for the team, and fans, but each was in street clothes. Neither has progressed to skating, and both will stay in Minnesota this week.
Spurgeon hasn’t played since sustaining an upper body injury when he was checked into the boards in an Oct. 5 preseason game in Chicago but has been practicing with teammates since Wednesday.
“If he’s cleared to play and he feels he’s ready to go, then we put him in the lineup,” Evason said. “We obviously want him back, but we also want him healthy for the entire rest of the season.”
Center Marco Rossi scored on a pass from Kirill Kaprizov for a 4-3, third-period lead over the New York Rangers on Saturday as the Wild ended a four-game winless streak with a 5-4 shootout victory at Xcel Energy Center.
It was the fifth goal in 11 games this season, tying him with Chicago’s Connor Bedard for the lead among all NHL rookies on Sunday.
Since Evason juggled his lines in the second period of a 5-3 loss to New Jersey last Thursday, Rossi has been playing with wings Kaprizov and Matt Boldy. In those five periods, that trio has combined for three goals — one on a power play — and six assists.
Boldy, who has played in two games since returning from a seven-game injury absence (upper body), scored the deciding goal in Saturday’s shootout.
“They played with a lot of pace. They all have a skill set that helps them find each other,” Evason said “Bolds has only played a couple of games and he’s gonna get better and better, and obviously Rossi and Kirill seem to have a bit of chemistry.”
Wing Marcus Johansson did not participate in Sunday’s scrimmage for what Evason called “precautionary reasons” and is expected to practice on Monday before the team leaves for New York.