Some of the factors studied the most in the preseason — chemistry among new linemates, a return from injury and debuts from new players — were in play for the Wild’s exhibition opener Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.
And the outcomes from each were encouraging, even if they culminated in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Stars.
“Not the result [the team wanted] at the end of the day,” winger Ryan Hartman said. “But I think overall it was a pretty decent game by us.”
Stars forward Justin Dowling capitalized on a breakaway 3 minutes, 35 seconds into the extra period, this after the newbie Hartman cashed in on a shorthanded breakaway at 14:43 of the second period to even the score. Hartman finished an assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick, as he also flexed his physical side by dropping the gloves for a fight earlier in the frame.
“He scored that goal, and he looked like he knew what he was doing,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Dallas’ Roope Hintz made it 1-0 off the rush on the power play with 40 seconds left in the first.
Alex Stalock made 19 saves for the Wild, while Landon Bow had 18 through two periods for the Stars before Colton Point turned aside 13 in the third period and overtime.
This was defenseman Matt Dumba’s first game since he suffered a torn pectoral muscle in December, and he looked comfortable settling back into action — particularly on the power play where he was active in getting shots off.
Despite not getting on the scoresheet, the Zach Parise, Ryan Donato and Mats Zuccarello line had some good looks, and Zuccarello continues to skate like the playmaker he was brought in to be.
“You’d like to win all the time, but I try to take the positives and the teaching negatives out of there,” Boudreau said. “You can watch the teaching negatives, and hopefully we get better on that.”
Aside from contributing more offense and being a physical presence, a responsibility stressed to him by General Manager Bill Guerin, winger Marcus Foligno hopes to resume his post as one of the Wild’s top penalty killers — a role he had plenty of practice at Tuesday, with the Wild putting the Stars on the power play five times and Foligno on the ice for the start of each shorthanded situation.
Dallas went 1-for-5, while the Wild was 0-for-5 during a special-teams slugfest.
“I want to be counted on to be [the] first penalty-killing line,” Foligno said.
After Foligno worked with Eric Fehr last season, his new partner could be captain Mikko Koivu since Boudreau wants someone who can win faceoffs on the ice.
Last season, the Wild had the seventh-best efficiency in the NHL at 81.7%.
Foligno occasionally killed penalties Tuesday with Hartman, and that’s a duo that could stick together on a line during the season.
“He seems like he has a pretty good set of hands for a guy that’s kind of labeled as a depth player,” Foligno said of Hartman.
“I think he has a little more finishing than guys I’ve played with before on the fourth line.”
Boudreau now anticipates winger Kevin Fiala, who has been unable to join the Wild until he secures a work visa after signing a two-year, $6 million contract a week ago, arrives by Friday.
“If he’s been working with a pro team, probably physically he’s not behind much,” Boudreau said. “It’s just getting positionally [settled] with his linemates is where he’d be behind.”
But Boudreau hopes Fiala will be able to play in at least three exhibition games.