It was the first of many emergency saves Wedgewood made during a 4-1 win over the Blues in St. Louis, the eighth time in the last nine games that the Stars have earned at least a point.
Wedgewood made an unexpected start for Dallas in St. Louis, as Jake Oettinger was a late scratch because he was sick. Oettinger backed up Wedgewood on Monday, but did not skate in warmup and did not sit on the Stars bench during the game. In response, Wedgewood delivered 23 saves.
“Full credit,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “He didn’t know he was starting until essentially warmup or game time. It was a last-minute illness came over Otter and just couldn’t go. That takes a lot of character to be able to turn yourself on like that and then give us a game like he did in a critical moment.”
Wyatt Johnston, Ty Dellandrea, Jason Robertson and Miro Heiskanen (empty-netter) scored for the Stars, who return home to host the Ducks on Thursday night. Robertson’s third-period goal on the rush extended his point streak to 16 games, which is the longest in Dallas Stars history.
Robertson leads the NHL with 19 goals in 23 games this season.
Brandon Saad scored on one of the few mistakes by Wedgewood, whose errant pass along the boards found Josh Leivo. Saad tipped Leivo’s shot into the back of the net.
Wedgewood said he found out he was starting around 4 p.m. before the bus from the hotel to the arena, when goaltending coach Jeff Reese informed Wedgewood of the news.
“That’s the underrated thing as a backup,” Wedgewood said. “You have to prepare just in case of anything like this. I took my nap, I ate my pregame meal.”
For what Wedgewood lacked in the gaudy save totals on Monday night, he made up for with degree of difficulty.
In the first period, Wedgewood made a sprawling save to his right on Pavel Buchnevich, robbing St. Louis of what would have been the first goal of the game. As Buchnevich led a 2 on 1 with Ivan Barbashev and a trailing Calle Rosen, Wedgewood registered where the one-timer threats were. For the left-handed Buchnevich, that was in the right circle.
“Obviously, you just throw an arm out there and sometimes you’ve got to be good and lucky,” Wedgewood said. “Got my fingertips on it and then a big block for the guys in front when I was scrambling like a fish there.”
Scott Wedgewood with two more on Josh Leivo in tight. pic.twitter.com/uKOS7zofUo— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) November 29, 2022
Wedgewood also made two saves in tight on Josh Leivo, as part of his 11-save first period.
“I thought actually they probably had the better chances in the first,” DeBoer said. “I thought that was when they pushed as hard as at any point in the game. He really gave us a chance to get going as the game went on. I knew he was good when he was good early.”
In the second period, Wedgewood frustrated Buchnevich into banging his stick against the glass.
After the game, DeBoer said he would term Oettinger’s illness a flu.
“We’ve had it running through the team a little bit,” DeBoer said. “We’ve had some guys have it. If it’s the same thing other guys have been getting, hopefully it’s a 24-hour thing.”
The Stars made sure Wedgewood’s effort would hold up.
Johnston scored in the second period on the rush, using a Jamie Benn screen at the net-front to beat Jordan Binnington. Johnston’s sixth goal of the season came moments after Joel Kiviranta saved a goal on a wraparound attempt by Jordan Kyrou.
Johnston added to his evening with a slick, skilled pass to Dellandrea in the third period, a goal that gave the Stars a two-goal lead and some breathing room.
Saad cut the lead to 2-1, and Robertson responded with his 17th goal in the last 16 games. Robertson blocked Niko Mikkola’s shot in the Dallas zone, then won a race to the puck and whipped a shot past Binnington on the far side.
“I told him, I’ve seen the goal scoring ability, so the shot should impress the hell out of me, but it doesn’t,” DeBoer said. “The blocked shot impresses the hell out of me. That’s what I liked.”
For Wedgewood, it was his fifth win in the last seven starts. He raised his save percentage to .906.
“He was awesome tonight, made some really big saves the whole game,” Johnston said. “He was obviously done a really good job, and he’s done a great job of stepping in whenever we need him.”
Lundkvist scratched: Stars defenseman Nils Lundkvist was scratched for the first time this season on Monday in St. Louis.
Lundkvist, a 22-year-old right-handed defenseman, played the first 22 games of the season before Monday’s game. Joel Hanley entered the lineup on defense, as the Stars shuffled defensive pairs. Miro Heiskanen played on his off side with Ryan Suter, while Hanley played with Colin Miller.
“It’s what all young players go through,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “He’s kind of at the 20-something-game mark and it’s OK to reset. He’s got to start to skate again, and use some of the things that make him successful.”
Lundkvist has one goal in the last 14 games, and played a season-low 12:50 on Saturday night in a 4-1 loss to Colorado.
Still searching: DeBoer and the Stars are still looking for help on the second line, and tried Radek Faksa with Mason Marchment and Tyler Seguin on Monday in St. Louis.
Faksa became the seventh different player this season with Marchment and Seguin. The Stars have also tried Denis Gurianov (nine games), Matěj Blümel (five), Ty Dellandrea (four), Joel Kiviranta (two), Jamie Benn (one) and Jacob Peterson (one).
Faksa centered the line with Marchment on the left and Seguin on the right.
“We haven’t gone to this option yet,” DeBoer said. “We’ve been trying different wingers there, but Faks deserves the opportunity. We talked about it over the summer, but had a really poor start, and now he’s put himself in a position with his play that that’s become an option for us.”
— Robertson was named the NHL’s first star of the week on Monday, the second time this season he’s earned the honor. He had six goals and two assists in the last four games. Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey was the second star, and Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin was the third star.