Wild sign Marcus Johansson to 2-year, $4M deal

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Wild signed right wing Marcus Johansson to a two-year, $4 million contract, securing a key player who was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Johansson’s salary cap hit of $2 million for the next two seasons will give general manager Bill Guerin some valuable certainty in a time of little flexibility because of the dead money the Wild are carrying for the 2021 buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

The 32-year-old Johansson had six goals and 12 assists in 20 regular-season games for the Wild, who reacquired him on Feb. 28 before the trade deadline from Washington for a third-round draft pick. Johansson had two goals in six games in the playoffs for the Wild, who lost in the first round to Dallas. Johansson’s presence on a line with Matt Boldy was a big lift down the stretch for the budding star, who had 15 goals and eight assists over his last 19 games.

Johansson first came to Minnesota in 2020 from Buffalo in a deal for center Eric Staal. After one season with the Wild, he signed with expansion Seattle. Johansson has played 13 years in the NHL, mostly with the Capitals.

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    Joe Pavelski skating again, return for Stars still uncertain

    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    DALLAS — Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski skated with some teammates in another step before he can return to the playoffs from concussion protocol.

    However it was still uncertain when he might be able to play again.

    Coach Pete DeBoer said it was “a great sign” to see Pavelski skating in a light workout with scratched and inactive Stars players, but that he’s still not available to play. Pavelski got hurt one week earlier when he banged his head hard on the ice after a crushing blow from Minnesota defender Matt Dumba in the opener of the best-of-seven series that is now tied at 2-2.

    Game 5 is in Dallas.

    “He’s not available yet, but the fact that he’s taking this step, this is the first time back with a group of guys on the ice, that’s important,” DeBoer said.

    “There’s all kinds of steps you have to take and see how you react. … The first one’s light exercise and then a little heavier and then people around you and then contact. So he’s doing all the right things.”

    The 38-year-old Pavelski, whose 64 playoff goals are the most among U.S.-born players, didn’t travel with the team to Minnesota for Games 3 and 4. But he skated on his own while back at home and called DeBoer while the team was in Minnesota.

    “We conversed between games,” DeBoer said. “He’s involved, he’s watching the games.”

    Stars even series with 3-2 win vs. Wild on Seguin’s PP pair

    stars wild
    Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — Jake Oettinger produced another brilliant playoff performance for the Dallas Stars, all the way down to the closing seconds.

    The good show put on by the Minnesota Wild just left them with a heap of frustration.

    Tyler Seguin scored two power-play goals and Oettinger made 33 saves in his home state to help the Stars bounce back from a lopsided loss and beat the Wild 3-2 in Game 4 on Sunday night to even their first-round NHL playoff series.

    “Every guy on our team is going to have moments where they need to step up in these playoffs, so it was my turn tonight,” Oettinger said.

    Evgenii Dadonov gave the Stars a two-score lead early in the third period just 8 seconds after escaping the penalty box, his third goal of the series. John Klingberg responded by scoring for the Wild less than three minutes later against his former team right after a goal-line block on the other end, but the Stars closed out a critical victory on the strength of their star goalie and their potent power play.

    “We didn’t make them pay for taking penalties last game,” said Stars coach Peter DeBoer, whose team lost 5-1 in Game 3. “We wanted to make sure we did tonight.”

    Both of Seguin’s goals followed questionable penalties on Minnesota’s feisty right wing Marcus Foligno, who was called for tripping with 4:49 remaining before Seguin delivered his third goal of the series and the second multi-goal playoff game of his career.

    “It’s not a tripping call when you hit a guy clean on,” said an angry Foligno, beginning and ending his answer to a question about the officiating with the same expletive.

    Frederick Gaudreau gave the Wild another opening on his power-play goal with 1:20 left, but Oettinger didn’t budge. He finished off another golden playoff performance by getting a glove on Marcus Johansson‘s close-range slap shot from the right circle with 12 seconds left as just about everyone on the Wild bench winced with disappointment.

    “Just tried to get over there as quickly as I can, so luckily it stayed up,” Oettinger said.

    The Central Division foes will relocate for Game 5 in Dallas on Tuesday night.

    “We got chances. We played the right way. We didn’t get rewarded tonight, and you can make your evaluation of why we didn’t get rewarded tonight,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “But we didn’t. If we play like that, we will get rewarded.”

    The Wild played again without top center Joel Eriksson Ek, their third-leading scorer and truest two-way player, with a lower-body injury that has limited him to just one shift in the series. They sure could’ve used his stick and strength around the goal to knock in a rebound against Oettinger, who grew up in Lakeville about a half-hour drive from downtown St. Paul.

    The 24-year-old Oettinger made a postseason name for himself a year ago with a 64-save effort in the Game 7 overtime loss to Calgary, and he added another gem to his list with this game.

    Foligno was denied twice on one breakaway, the rebound try deflected by Oettinger’s pad. Wild star Kirill Kaprizov, who scored in Game 1 but has been hounded and pounded by the Stars all series, had a breakaway shot brushed aside by Oettinger, too.

    “He was our best player, and he had to be,” DeBoer said.


    Foligno was whistled for interference behind his own net late in the second period, a call that had the crowd and the Wild bench howling. The Stars seized their opening, when Seguin knocked a slow-sliding puck between Filip Gustavsson’s pads after an initial shot by Roope Hintz.

    Special teams have been a significant problem for the Wild, who are 4 for 17 on the power play. The Stars are 7 for 16.

    “We felt like we played way better 5-on-5, and as soon as they got on the power play and after our power play, they scored,” said Gustavsson, who mad 21 saves. “That’s a big momentum swing.”


    Hockey crowds have a time-worn habit of taunting the opposing goalie during the playoffs, but the Wild fans hardly mustered much of an anti-Oettinger chant. He was too good to get jeered anyway. Plus, about 25 people in the arena were his family and friends.

    “I’m sure they were 10 times as nervous as I was,” Oettinger said. “I feel bad for them sometimes. They’re way more nervous than me, and they just support me through thick and thin.”

    Ryan Hartman suspended for Wild’s final regular-season game

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Ryan Hartman of the Minnesota Wild was suspended one game for interfering with Nikolai Ehlers of the Winnipeg Jets, which will cause him to miss the regular-season finale but make him available for the start of the playoffs.

    The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced the suspension after a disciplinary hearing by phone with Hartman, who won’t be able to play at Nashville. The Wild are locked into the third seed in the Central Division.

    Any longer of a suspension would have caused Hartman to miss Game 1 or more of their first-round series. Minnesota will open on the road against either Dallas or defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado.

    Hartman hit Ehlers when the Jets forward did not have the puck on a play midway through the third period of the teams’ game in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Tuesday. He was given a minor penalty for interference.

    “He’s in a vulnerable position,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “He is. And you hate to see those hits.”

    The league agreed. In a video announcing the suspension, player safety called it “a forceful body check on a player who is not eligible to be hit and is not prepared to protect himself” and disagreed with Hartman’s argument that he was just bracing for contact.

    Bowness did not have an update on Ehlers’ condition after the Jets’ win that clinched a playoff spot, the second and final wild card in the Western Conference.

    It’s Hartman’s second career suspension after being banned one playoff game in 2018 for an illegal check to the head of Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog while with Nashville. He previously has been fined six times, and this suspension will cost him $9,189, with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

    Hartman’s suspension was not the only discipline handed out from a game between division rivals that got heated, with 51 combined penalty minutes and a fight – and even included Bowness and Minnesota coach Dean Evason yelling at each other from the opposing benches.

    Jets defenseman Neal Pionk was fined $5,000, the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, for cross-checking Wild forward Marcus Johansson in the final minute.

    “They got really dirty,” Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck said afterward. ”I don’t know why. We were playing hard. I guess they were playing hard, too, but they were getting a little unnecessary. I think maybe the refs let it get a little out of control. That’s playoff hockey right there. That’s it.”

    Jets clinch playoff spot with feisty 3-1 win vs. Wild

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. – Mark Scheifele scored his 42nd goal, Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves and the Winnipeg Jets clinched the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs with a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

    Adam Lowry and Mason Appleton also scored goals in Hellebuyck’s 13th consecutive start for the Jets, who won for the fifth time in six games to secure the second wild card and eliminate Nashville.

    Kirill Kaprizov had a power-play goal early in the third period for the Wild, who lost for the first time in four games this season to the rival Jets and had their long-shot chance to win the Central Division end.

    Colorado entered the day with 104 points, before hosting Edmonton on Tuesday night, and Dallas has 104 points. Minnesota has 102 points. The Avalanche and Stars still have two more games left this week, and the Wild only have one. The Stars hold the tiebreaker over the Wild on regulation wins.

    Lowry gave the Jets the lead with just 3:53 elapsed when he knocked in a carom off a blocked shot of Nino Neiderreiter’s for his second goal in as many games. Scheifele also scored on a rebound off Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, when teammates Jonas Brodin and Connor Dewar weren’t able to track the puck in time to keep Scheifele away from it.

    The action was edgy and rough enough to be a playoff game, as Jets fourth-liner Saku Maenalanen frequently harassed Kaprizov. Maenalanen drew a high stick penalty on Kaprizov that gave the Wild a 5-on-3 power play, but it bridged the first intermission and momentum was lost after the long break.

    The Wild had a 13-4 advantage in shots on goal in the first period and never let up from there, left wondering what they had to do to get a puck past Hellebuyck.

    Dewar’s snap shot off a rebound in front of a wide-open net hit the post early in the third period. Lowry hooked him to give the Wild another power play when Kaprizov finally converted, a few seconds after he hit the post twice from point-blank range.

    The game really got ugly down the stretch. Ryan Hartman leveled Nikolaj Ehlers with an open-ice, shoulder-to-shoulder hit after Ehlers went after Kaprizov, and Hartman drew a double minor for roughing and interference. Wild fans jeered the officials with derogatory chants about the calls they disagreed with, finally cheering when Neal Pionk drew a five-minute penalty for cross-checking. Lowry and Ryan Reaves dropped the gloves with 25 seconds left for good measure.

    Kaprizov suffered a scary lower-body injury against the Jets in Winnipeg on March 8, when he was hit hard and awkwardly from behind by 6-foot-7 defenseman Logan Stanley and missed the next 13 games. Stanley was a healthy scratch this time, with the Jets using the same lineup that fueled a 6-2 win over San Jose on Monday to finish 4-1 on a five-game homestand.

    The Jets, who reached the Western Conference finals five years ago after beating the Wild in the first round and the Predators in the second round before a a slow fade that precipitated the firing of coach Paul Maurice in the middle of last season, missed the playoffs in 2022.


    Scheifele scored for the third straight game to move into a tie for ninth in the NHL in goals. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in 37 career games against the Wild.


    Wild defenseman Matt Dumba was named the team’s inaugural recipient of the Tom Kurvers Humanitarian Award, created in honor of their late assistant general manager. Dumba has long worked on anti-racism and inclusivity initiatives within the sport.


    Jets: Play at Colorado on Thursday night. Winnipeg will face the No. 1 overall seed in the first round starting next week. Vegas, Edmonton, Colorado and Dallas are still alive for the top spot.

    Wild: Play at Nashville on Thursday night. Minnesota will either play Colorado or Dallas in the first round, with home-ice advantage a long shot.