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White Makes Plenty of Noise in Wild Debut

Newcomer scores goal, tallies assist in Minnesota's win over Los Angeles

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

WINNIPEG -- A day that began warm in their beds in Arizona ended in a hotel room in southern Manitoba. In between, Martin Hanzal and Ryan White flew to Minnesota and helped the Wild defeat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 in a stunning overtime victory.

The Wild never led until Mikael Granlund's highlight-reel, coast-to-coast goal 12 seconds into the extra session, which punctuated Minnesota's eight-game homestand in style; the club finished the franchise-long stretch on home ice with a 5-2-1 record.

White played a major part in the victory, netting his first assist in a Wild sweater just 13 minutes into the game before scoring his first goal with his new team 13 minutes into the second period.

While Hanzal stole the headlines after the trade was consummated Sunday evening, it was White who stole the show against the Kings.

Video: LAK@MIN: White pots redirect to score in Wild debut

"They just kind of gave us the base of what was going to happen out there and just told us to go out there and play hockey," White said. "I think that's the way to go about it on the day like this. That's what I was telling myself all day that it's just hockey. So just go out there and play. I got lucky."

After walking into the dressing room two hours before puck drop, White approached the board to check on his line assignment. A skilled junior hockey player who has carved out a niche as an effective bottom-six forward in the NHL wasn't sure he was reading it right: top-line duties on the right side of Nino Niederreiter and Eric Staal.

"I had to take a double check for sure. I haven't seen that too many times in my career. I was definitely excited," White said. "It gave me a little kick in the [rear] to get myself going. It was special playing with those two guys tonight. It was nice to get rewarded with them."

Neither of White's points came as a result of him doing anything fancy. On his assist, he won a puck battle along the end boards and chipped it along to a pinching Jared Spurgeon. His pass hit the tape of Niederreiter in front of the net, and the Swiss winger made a pretty play to net his 20th goal of the season.

Video: LAK@MIN: Niederreiter tallies with move to forehand

On his goal, White was exactly where he told his linemates he'd be if they were looking for him. Staal gained control of the puck along the right wall, turned, and fired the puck in the direction of the goal, deflecting in off White's stick.

"I'm gonna be around the net. That's where I make my money," White said. "That's kind of nice getting to skate with a couple of guys like that. I just told them before the game, 'I'll be hanging around the net,' and [Staal] made a good play."

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau had a hectic day trying to figure out how to slot in his new toys. With Zach Parise and Jason Pominville both sidelined for the next few games because of mumps, the club recalled Tyler Graovac from Iowa. 

At 11 a.m., Zac Dalpe was claimed off waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I usually get here really early, and then it still didn't seem like I had enough time to get it all done because it seemed like every 15 minutes something new was happening," Boudreau said. It seemed like every time Boudreau jotted down a line combination, an exterior factor forced him to change on the fly.

As has been the case often in his first season in Minnesota, whatever elixir the veteran coach has has worked out beautifully. Putting White on the top line is just the latest stroke of good luck.

Better lucky than good, perhaps?

"I didn't know," Boudreau said, as he motioned with his hands the rolling of dice. "There was some thought that I wanted to get balance, but I haven't seen Ryan White play a full game ever."

After the game, as White peeled off his equipment and prepped for the hour-long flight to Winnipeg for Tuesday's game against the Jets, Wild general manager bounced into the dressing room and shook the hand of the guy he had traded for 24 hours earlier.

"Hi Ryan, Chuck Fletcher, nice to meet you," he said to the player who already had his first two points with the Wild under his belt.

All White could do was chuckle.

"A whirlwind day," White said. "Me and Marty kept saying all day, 'I'm not sure how we're going to play.' We didn't get much food, with planes and trains and all that stuff. Mentally you just had to be tough,and lucky enough, we got rewarded."

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