TAMPA, FLA. — Jordie Benn idled as a healthy scratch for more than three weeks, a span of 10 games, before returning to the Wild lineup.
And when he did make his second appearance of the season, the veteran defenseman factored into the Wild's 5-4 shootout loss to the Lightning by setting up the team's first of two game-tying goals.
"I didn't have a shot," Benn said. "All I could do was probably throw it back in the corner. But I just saw our jersey, a Wild jersey. I didn't know who it was, so I just slid it in there and it turned out well."
Benn fed the puck to Brandon Duhaime for a one-timer that knotted the score at 2 in the second, Benn's first point with the team after signing a one-year contract as a free agent in August after stints with Dallas, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
He also played 12 minutes, 26 seconds alongside Dmitry Kulikov, getting ushered into duty with captain Jared Spurgeon sidelined because of a lower-body injury.
The Wild did recall Calen Addison from the American Hockey League on Sunday and he arrived in Tampa before the game, but the team recognized the opportunity for Benn to suit up and coach Dean Evason said Benn played well.
"It's never fun," Benn said about sitting out. "It's very frustrating, but you have to try and stay positive."
Spurgeon left the first period of Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Panthers and did not return. Evason said the defenseman is getting evaluated.
"He's everything to our hockey club," Evason said. "It's a big, big hole. He drives the offense on the back end. He's so good defensively, killing penalties, power play. But what he does within the room is pretty special. So, are we worried? Sure. But hopefully it shakes down not as bad."
Kevin Fiala had a hand in both third-period goals by the Wild that led to extra time, scoring his third of the season and then assisting on Joel Eriksson Ek's equalizer.
Fiala was also back on the power play against the Lightning after not getting any looks on Saturday. He also took only three shifts in the third period last Thursday vs. Dallas, what Evason acknowledged as the Wild relying on other players.
"We talk to each individual," Evason said after Saturday's game. "We talk to everybody, every guy. The guys know where they stand with us."
Matt Dumba logged a season-high 28 minutes, 17 seconds on Sunday, this after he played 26:25 the previous night vs. Florida.
"It lets you get into the rhythm of the game," said Dumba, who ranks third in power-play points among Wild defenseman (72) after his assist on Marcus Foligno's first-period goal. "It's fine. Me and [Jonas Brodin] are up for that challenge, so we're not shying away from that in any regard. Just stay ready and make sure our bodies are ready for what we have in store."
On a roll
With his game-tying goal at 19:21 of the third period, Eriksson Ek extended his point streak to a season-high four games. He has goals in back-to-back games, and only Ryan Hartman (nine) has scored more on the team than his eight.
Foligno is right behind them with seven goals after he capitalized in consecutive games for the first time this season. His goal vs. the Lightning was his career-high third on the power play.
As for Alex Goligoski, he pushed his season-long point streak to three games and is up to nine points in nine games after his two-assist effort.
Overall, the Wild has eight players in double digits for points. Only the Panthers have more players with 10-plus points at nine.
Matt Boldy made a splashy return to action after his season debut was put on hold by a broken left ankle suffered during the Wild's training camp.
In his first game back on Friday with Iowa in the American Hockey League, Boldy scored twice and picked up an assist before scoring again on Sunday.