A big night for Wild ‘heart and soul’ player Mason Shaw: Key takeaways vs. Senators

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — This game was so sleepy for so long, that the biggest cheers from the crowd came during a “Friends”-themed clip on the Jumbotron during “90s Night.”

“Not one of our prettiest games,” defenseman Zach Bogosian said.

The Wild needed a spark. They needed something.

Enter Mason Shaw.

Shaw, just over one year removed from his fourth ACL surgery, delivered an impressive performance, scoring a goal and setting up the winner with a strong puck battle in a 3-2 victory over the Senators. It was his first goal since Mar. 21, 2023.

“That one felt really good, not going to lie,” Shaw said. “A big relief, personally. I’d like that to come a little bit sooner. But it’s one I’ll remember for sure.”

Shaw had just one point in his first 12 games since returning from his rehab and a stint at AHL Iowa. He said he’s thought a lot recently about his journey, and the one-year anniversary of his surgery. Like Shaw, Brock Faber spent the summer in the Twin Cities training, so he had an appreciation for what his good friend went through.

“It’s cool to share (this moment) with him,’ Faber said. “Not many people believed he’d play in another NHL game, much less score a goal in the NHL. To spend the summer with him, see the mindset he had coming to the rink every day. Nothing but respect for him and how hard he’s worked and how much he’s overcome to prove to other people that no matter how many injuries he’s had, it doesn’t stop him.”

Shaw’s presence should provide some much-needed perspective to a Wild team that — while mathematically alive in the playoff chase — is likely going to end their season in a few weeks. Minnesota moved to within six points of the second wild-card spot and the Kings with eight games to go. They certainly didn’t play like a desperate, focused team on Tuesday. They didn’t play particularly fast. They had lapses of judgment and details. They found a way to win, sure, but coach John Hynes didn’t mince words when he spoke about the team’s performance. Had Marc-Andre Fleury not stopped a mid-third-period short-handed breakaway, this could have been the story of another blown third-period lead.

“I think we scored the goal, but I think our game in general needs to be tightened up in a lot of areas going into Colorado (Thursday),” Hynes said.

Shaw, a pending UFA this summer, is enjoying every moment he has with the only team he’s ever known. He laughed about getting pranked by Fleury on his way out of practice the other day. Shaw wouldn’t disclose details on Fleury’s prank, but joked that a “war” has started. “I’ll find some way to get retaliation,” Shaw said.

And it made so much sense for Shaw to get the player of the game viking helmet postgame, handed to him by defenseman Jake Middleton.

“I had a lot of time to think how much the game of hockey means to me, especially this locker room, when you’re not a part of it for a long time,” Shaw said. “I  try to do a good job of enjoying these moments.”

Bogosian said he knew Shaw was something special when he heard so much about him — even when he was still rehabbing in Iowa. The same goes for Hynes, who has now seen it all firsthand.

“A heart and soul type player,” Hynes said. “He’s done it the hard way.”

  • Vinni Lettieri’s game-winning goal with just under seven minutes left was his first goal since Dec. 18.
  • The Wild’s 29th-ranked penalty kill unit gave up a pair of goals to the Senators.
  • As The Athletic first reported Saturday, Marcus Foligno has been shut down for the rest of the season, having undergone core surgery on Tuesday. He’s expected to be fully recovered before the start of training camp in September. Foligno had core surgery last summer on the other side.

Fourth line delivers

For a Wild team that struggled to find secondary scoring all season, they got a big boost from their fourth line on Tuesday. The line factored in two goals, with Mason Shaw’s in the first and Vinni Lettieri’s go-ahead tally midway through the third. Minnesota was missing a couple of veteran forwards in Foligno, who is shut down for the season due to core surgery, and Ryan Hartman, sitting the first of a three-game suspension. Shaw’s first goal got the Wild going. And while Shaw didn’t get an assist on Lettieri’s goal, his hustle and work along the boards made it happen. What made that goal so important was that it came just a minute after the Wild thought they had a go-ahead power-play goal by Kirill Kaprizov; Kaprizov pushed in a rebound, but refs blew the play dead before, thinking Joonas Korpisalo had it covered. “The difference was secondary scoring,” Hynes said.

Fleury’s key save

While  Fleury has played well down the stretch, his last two starts were tough ones; both times, he allowed five goals. And the future Hall of Famer had to sit on the last one, a loss to St. Louis, for 10 days. But Fleury was solid from the get-go on Tuesday, including making 10 first-period saves. The only goals Fleury gave up were two on the power play, both off cross-crease passes where the 39-year-old goaltender had very little chance. In a ho-hum kind of game, Fleury was one of the Wild’s top players. With the game tied midway through the third, Fleury came through with a clutch stop on a short-handed breakaway by Ridly Greig. “Just a key save at a key time,” Hynes said. Fleury has said this has been a rejuvenating kind of season for him, and he appears open to potentially continuing to play (either with the Wild or not at all). How the team decides on their goalie tandem this offseason will be one of the summer’s most fascinating storylines.

Three stars

  1. Mason Shaw, Wild — The winger scored the game’s first goal and was the catalyst for the game-winner.
  2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Wild — Fleury kept a sleepy Wild team in it, including a game-saving, short-handed breakaway stop midway through the third.
  3. Zach Bogosian, Wild — Veteran defenseman was active all night, with his highlight-reel assist on Shaw’s goal part of a plus-3 performance.

(Photo: David Berding / Getty Images)

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