STOCKHOLM — The Wild’s trip to Sweden was for business, and they’ll be the first to acknowledge that the business part of the trip did not go how they would have liked.
But the opportunity to play outside of North America doesn’t present itself often, and though the Wild only left with two points — they lost in a shootout to Ottawa on Saturday and suffered a 4-3 overtime loss to Toronto on Sunday — they’ll still depart Sweden with plenty of positive memories.
“Obviously we wanted more points,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “Wish I could have made that save there at the end to keep it going, see where that would have taken us. But the whole experience was amazing. Stockholm was very welcoming to us. and obviously it was a great experience that we had here.”
It was an especially meaningful trip for the Wild’s handful of Swedish players — Joel Eriksson Ek, Jonas Brodin, Filip Gustavsson and Marcus Johansson, as well as goalie prospect Jesper Wallstedt, who made the trip but did not play.
“Looking back at this, I think it’s going to be very special,” Eriksson Ek said. “It’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so for me it’s been very special to play in front of the Swedish people and a lot of people here, too, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
All of the Wild’s Swedish players had robust cheering sections made up of friends and family members who don’t have the chance to watch them play often — or in some cases, ever.
That was the case for some other players from nearby areas, as well, including Russian forward Kirill Kaprizov, who had his family in town, and Marco Rossi, who had a bunch of people make the trip from Austria to watch him.
“It is wonderful for the Swedes to play at home in front of their (countrymen) — but we had a lot of European guys that had their families here, too. I think it’s special for everybody,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “I know for us as a staff, it was incredible just enjoying the food, the museums, the culture, the atmosphere at the rink, and the city is such a beautiful city and the people are so welcoming. I think we’ll all take a lot of wonderful memories from this week.”
The Wild, who left the Twin Cities last Monday night, will return to town on Monday afternoon and will have a few days to prepare for their next game.
They will not play another game until after Thanksgiving, affording them some time to readjust and shake off any jet lag they may have. They will practice a couple of times this week before hosting the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
Freddy Gaudreau, who was on long-term injured reserve, returned to the Wild’s lineup on Sunday. For Gaudreau, who was out with an upper-body injury, it was his first game since late October. To make room for him, the Wild assigned Daemon Hunt to Iowa. … Ryan Hartman returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing Saturday’s game with an illness.