FRISCO – When the Stars were repeatedly denied by Scott Wedgewood during a February game in Arizona, they did not know he would be the key to their playoff hunt two months later.
On Tuesday, Wedgewood posted his fifth career stop, making 25 saves in a 1-0 Stars victory over Lightning. It was Wedgewood’s fourth start as a star since Dallas bought him at the Arizona trade deadline for a conditional fourth-round pick.
In those four games, the Stars have earned seven out of eight possible points, and Wedgewood owns a 0.922 save percentage and 2.67 goals against the average.
“He played the game he played against us in Arizona when he stole the game for them,” said Stars coach Rick Bowness. “I love his balance. He’s wasting no movement. He’s very confident. He’s very clear. He’s good with the puck behind the net. He’s been a very, very pleasant surprise. Going back to that game in Arizona, that was it. , we hoped we got, and we got it. “
Wedgewood was acquired last month (the choice in the fourth round will be a third if Stars come into the playoffs) as Stars once deep goalkeeping figures took another hit. When Braden Holtby sustained a lower body injury, Adam Scheel was recalled to support Jake Oettinger.
Holtby could be made ready for the season as he has been kept out of the game since March 4 and off the training ice since March 16. Bowness said Holtby (currently on long-term injured reserve) has not started skating. Is he done for the season?
“He could be, yes,” Bowness said. “Until we see him on the ice, the answer to that would be yes.”
Without Holtby, Stars needed a goalkeeper to pair with Oettinger, if nothing else to give the 23-year-old starter a little rest in the final two months before the playoffs. This is where Wedgewood came in.
Wedgewood, 29, has been a career friend. Wedgewood was drafted in the third round in 2010 by the Devils and has played 49 games in the ECHL and 190 games in the AHL. He has never been in an NHL playoff hunt, was given up earlier in the season
“As an athlete, you could not ask for anything better than this at this stage of his career,” Bownesss said. “You jump around to three different teams and now you’re in a position to help a team get to the playoffs? That’s good. It’s like watching [Luke Glendening]. “Glenny’s missed the playoffs the last couple of years in Detroit and he’s all in, it’s unreal.”
(Bowness said Tuesday night that Glendening threw up on the bench Sunday in Chicago, but remained in the game.)
Wedgewood ($ 825,000 cap hit) has also never signed a one-way contract, but he may have a chance this summer.
He will be an unlimited free agent after this season, and his stretching performance with the Stars could be the key to finding NHL stability for Wedgewood. Maybe the future will come in Dallas?
The stars are likely to be in the market for a backup goalkeeper behind Oettinger. Holtby is a UFA. Anton Khudobin is due to have hip surgery. Adam Scheel and Remi Poirier are not ready for the NHL. So Wedgewood could be an option the stars are looking at.
Play as Tuesday’s victory over Lightning will help his cause.
“You’re going to beat the team your goalkeeper needs to be one of your better players,” Bowness said. “Wedgie was amazing.”
Damage updates: Striker Vladislav Namestnikov’s return from a lower body injury on Tuesday night has been considered “week after week,” Bowness said. Namestnikov is currently not scheduled to travel with the Stars on their upcoming three-game trip to Canada next week.
Bowness said “that last week we would hope for it” as a potential return for Namestnikov. Namestnikov has played 11 games for Dallas since the Stars bought him from Detroit for a fourth-round pick. He has played an average of 12:03 of ice time and has one goal and two assists at Stars.
Strikers Joel Kiviranta and Alexander Radulov were both on the ice for Star’s optional training session on Wednesday afternoon, after each player missed Tuesday’s victory over Tampa Bay because they were ill.
Bowness said Kiviranta and Radulov were better off and that “there will be a decision tomorrow” regarding their availability vs. Minnesota Thursday night. With Namestnikov’s injury, if both Radulov and Kiviranta are unable to play, the Stars would be down to 11 healthy strikers.
In that case, they will have to recall a forward from AHL-affiliated Texas (probably in an emergency). Ty Dellandrea has 22 points in his last 27 AHL matches. Riley Damiani has 13 points in 18 games since returning from a concussion. Rhett Gardner and Riley Tufte remain the bottom six options.
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