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Rask's winner a badly-needed shot in the arm for both player and team

Wild forward has a point in each of his first two games after being scratched in three straight to start the season

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

OTTAWA -- Victor Rask took in the first three games of the season from the press box, badly in need of a chance and perhaps some confidence.

Rask has gotten both in the past two days.

Just 48 hours after tallying an assist in the Wild's home opener on Saturday night, Rask scored the game-winning goal in Minnesota's 2-0 victory against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre on Monday.

The win snapped an unprecedented four-game losing streak to start the season for Minnesota and got the winning feelings back in the dressing room.

For Rask, it was even bigger. 

Traded to Minnesota last season, Rask was never fully healthy and struggled, both before and after the deal, scoring just two goals and three points in 23 games with the Wild.

When he didn't make the team's top-12 forwards out of training camp, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau lamented his confidence, and how Rask was likely lacking in that department. But to Rask's credit, he's waited his turn. 

Video: Locker room postgame at Ottawa

"You never want to be scratched," Rask said. "So you gotta go out there and show that you can play the game.

"I always try to keep good confidence in myself. [I] gotta believe in myself if you want to play at this level. Obviously it's nice to score a goal."

With the game scoreless into the third period, Jordan Greenway dug out a loose puck and got just enough of it to get it through a pair of Senators. Rask scooped it up, had some time and space to pick a spot, then sniped the top left corner of the net, short side, past Sens goalie Craig Anderson. 

Video: MIN@OTT: Rask roofs short-side wrister in close

A goal-scorers goal if there ever was one for the one-time 21-goal scorer. 

"That's what coaches like. We know the stars do their stuff," Boudreau said. "It's when the guys that don't get much of the limelight do well, you feel really good for them."

Rask lost all eight of his faceoffs against the Penguins on Saturday, perhaps the one blemish on his individual boxscore. So the sixth-year vet went to work at practice on Sunday in St. Paul, working on his draws. 

He won four of his five faceoff attempts, including both of his defensive zone draws, on Monday in addition to his goal.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame at Ottawa

"I'm happy for [Rask]. He's been working a lot. He's been in and out of the lineup," Greenway said. " To come out and work as hard as he did and get rewarded like that, it's great. It's something that any teammate wants to see."

Credit Rask for his patience as well. He received just over six minutes of ice time, nearly five minutes fewer than the next lowest on the team.

Every time Boudreau was ready to call his line, it seemed, there was a penalty. 

In the third period alone, a penalty on Ottawa's Erik Brannstrom at 3:18 pushed Rask's first shift of the frame. After the Wild power play came up empty, Rask finally got a chance ... one that lasted just eight seconds before Minnesota's Marcus Foligno took a boarding penalty.

"I kept telling him every time his line was up there was a penalty. That's why his minutes were down," Boudreau said. 

His first shift after the Wild killed the Foligno minor, Rask picked the top corner for the game-winning goal, his first since Jan. 30, 2018 against these same Senators when he was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

"A huge goal from a guy that wasn't in the lineup to start and count on him to make big plays," said Wild goaltender Alex Stalock, who stopped all 26 shots he faced for his sixth career shutout. "He made a heckuva shot. He's got talent to that. It's fun to see that."

Ultimately, Rask said he's happy with the goal, but it's the end result that matters most. 

"It's obviously nice for the confidence," Rask said. "But most importantly, we got two points here and that's what we came for."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 2, Senators 0

Video: MIN@OTT: Stalock shuts out Senators with 26 saves

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