Wild's Eriksson Ek was limited in series by broken lower leg
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek, whose participation in the first-round NHL playoff series loss to Dallas was limited to just one shift, was trying to play with a broken left leg that he wound up having surgery to fix.
Eriksson Ek revealed Monday that he suffered a fractured fibula, the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg, from a shot he blocked April 6 at Pittsburgh. Eriksson Ek missed the last four regular-season games and the first two games of the series against the Stars before being cleared April 21 for Game 3.
His return lasted only 19 seconds, and he had the procedure after that.
“I was skating for I don’t know how many days before,” Eriksson Ek said. “I felt good, and then just first shift, yeah, it didn’t hold up.”
The Stars eliminated the Wild in Game 6 with a 4-1 win Friday. Eriksson Ek would have potentially returned at some point had the Wild advanced. The presence of the seventh-year veteran was particularly missed on the power play and penalty kill units that struggled against the Stars.
“It is just so hard to sit and just watch. I think that’s harder than actually being out there. Being with the guys, that’s what you want to do. You want to be out there to try to do your best to help the team," Eriksson Ek said. “You play a whole season and then right before playoffs you get hurt.”
Wild center Ryan Hartman, who was held out of Game 2, also said Monday he was playing with a knee injury that might require offseason surgery.
Defenseman Matt Dumba said he missed the third period of Game 6 because of a collision that caused his head to hit hard on the glass. After Dumba told linemate Jonas Brodin he wasn't feeling well, his close friend told him he wasn't going to let him go back in the game after the second intermission.
“Just having that kind of friend that looks out for you like that, he’s a good dude,” Dumba said. "We’ve played some awesome hockey together.”
The timing was particularly painful for Dumba, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer on a team with a tight salary cap situation and might not be re-signed.
“My heart is definitely here,” Dumba said. “I want to win here, but I really don't know what lies ahead.”
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Dave Campbell, The Associated Press