Talbot out with lower-body injury for Wild, return unknown

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Cam Talbot won’t play for the Minnesota Wild in their next scheduled game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday and coach Dean Evason said he is not sure when he will return. 

The goalie did not come out for the third period of the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic because of a lower-body injury. Minnesota lost to the St. Louis Blues 6-4 on Jan. 1. 

“I don’t know,” Evason said regarding a timeline. “[He won’t be practicing] tomorrow, that’s for sure. He’s not going to play in Boston.”

Kaapo Kahkonen, who hasn’t started since a 2-1 loss on Dec. 11 against the Los Angeles Kings, made four saves in relief of Talbot at the Winter Classic and is 4-2-1 with a 2.67 GAA and .906 save percentage this season.

Goalie Andrew Hammond was recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League to the taxi squad and could be available for the game against the Bruins. The 33-year-old is 6-1-2 with a 2.09 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and an AHL-high three shutouts in nine games this season. 

Hammond played 33 games for Iowa in 2018-19 and is 27-15-6 with a 2.31 GAA, .923 save percentage and four shutouts in 56 NHL games (49 starts) with the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche.

“‘Hammer’s’ been in the show,” Evason said. “He knows what’s going on. He knows how to conduct himself and he knows how to stop pucks. The reports are very, very positive. Clearly that’s why we brought a guy like that back to our organization.

“It if is a longer situation [for Talbot], we’re comfortable going into the Boston game. We feel really confident he’s going to get the job done for us.”

During his tenure in Iowa, Hammond and Kahkonen played together, and the younger goalie said Hammond was helpful in getting him acclimated to the pro game.

“You get to play with and be around a person who’s seen it all at both levels,” Kahkonen said. “He’s going to support you and you’re going to support him. It’s definitely nice that he’s around, [but] Cam’s hurt, so that’s not a good thing.”

The loss to the Blues was the Wild’s fifth straight (0-4-1) following an eight-game winning streak. The game at Boston will be Minnesota’s second since Dec. 20. Its game Monday at the Senators was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns. 

“We talked to the group today,” Evason said. “There’s no excuses. We know where we’re at and what we’ve done here as of late. You need to play hockey. We saw it in our game. I don’t care if we were playing outside or inside. We have to find a way to be good when you’re not at your game. We’ll try to do some things here the next two days.”

Forward Jordan Greenway is in NHL COVID-19 protocol, joining defenseman Jonas Brodin. The Wild are also without defenseman Jared Spurgeon (lower body) and forward Joel Eriksson Ek (upper body).

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