Cam Talbot, named an NHL All-Star while sidelined for six games because of a lower-body injury, returned to the Wild goal Monday in an 8-2 victory over Montreal … sort of.
After playing two periods, he didn't come out for the third after an uh-oh moment. "I don't know how to explain it, I don't even think he knows how to explain it, but it was just a little scare," coach Dean Evason said.
Talbot, after two strong practices, will start Friday night when the Wild plays the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, where he was a backup to Henrik Lundqvist for two seasons. Lundqvist will have his jersey retired before the game.
"It was just kind of precautionary," Talbot said of the injury tweak. "I could have battled through, but it was probably the smart thing to take 20 minutes off and regroup and get ready to go for [Friday], which I am, so I'm happy about that."
As for Lundqvist, Talbot said there was "nothing better for a young goalie coming up like myself than to learn from one of the best to ever do it. He was the face of that franchise for the better part of 15 years, so there's no one more deserving to have their number up there than him."
Center Nico Sturm and defenseman Jon Merrill won't make the trip to New York for games against the Rangers and Islanders because of positive COVID-19 tests.
Victor Rask will center Sturm's line with rookie wingers Brandon Duhaime and Connor Dewar.
Jonas Brodin, out six games because of a hand injury, had a full practice Thursday and will return alongside defensive partner Matt Dumba.
Winger Kyle Rau was called up from Iowa and added to the taxi squad for the trip.
Backup goalie Kaapo Kahkonen was 5-0-1 in Talbot's absence and has better stats this season — he is 9-2-2 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .921 save percentage to Talbot's 16-8-1, 2.96 and .910.
"It's the same thing he's been doing for two years I've been here now," Talbot said. "Last year when I was out of the lineup he did the exact same thing and went on a roll, that's kind of what we've come to expect from him.
"I can't say enough about how he carried this team through five, six games there … his mentality and preparation has been outstanding, and he's getting rewarded for that."
Boldy and balance
Matt Boldy has six points, including three goals, in his seven games since being called up from Iowa, and has assumed a spot on a power play unit in a smooth transition to the NHL on a line with Kevin Fiala, who is on a nine-game point streak, and center Frederick Gaudreau.
"He's so committed," Evason said of Boldy. "Him and Kevin have a chemistry with Gouds, we think that line is gonna look good for us, right? I hope teams are going to start concentrating on them, because now we have other elements on our hockey club."
Ready, set, stop
Talbot's family will get to accompany him to All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas Feb. 4-5, giving five-year-old twins Landon and Sloane a family skate with dad and mom.
"We told my daughter we were going," Talbot said, "and she thought we were going right away. We came home from dinner that night, we had a babysitter, and her little purple suitcase was sitting in the kitchen, so she was ready to go. But we had to tell her it was three weeks away."