ST. PAUL, Minn. – Cal Clutterbuck came out of nowhere last season to set an NHL record with 356 hits. The scrappy forward established himself as someone who will outwork his opponent in the corners and finish each check.
He could be adding goal scorer to his resume this season. Clutterbuck scored twice to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 2-0 pre-season victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
Don’t expect the young forward to forget what his true strengths are.
“Tonight I was the guy to do it for us. This year, it’s going to have to be scoring by committee,” Clutterbuck said. “I mean, I’m not going to score two goals every night. Someone else is going to have to step up.”
The Blue Jackets played part of the game with teammate Jason Chimera on their minds.
Chimera was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher after being checked into the boards by Wild centre Eric Belanger with 6:17 left in the second period.
Chimera appeared to go into the boards face first after getting hit by Belanger. He stayed down on the ice for about five minutes before being placed on a stretcher and wheeled off. He gave two thumbs up on his way off and a team official said he was coherent. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
“From my view, it looked like he just had no chance to protect himself,” Columbus forward Rick Nash said. “Obviously, (Belanger) doesn’t have a history of (playing dirty) and he seems to be a pretty fair player. But I don’t know, I need to see the replay and judge from that.”
Belanger said he left Chimera a message wishing him well. He said he’s not a dirty player and that he thought Chimera saw him coming into the corner.
“I didn’t leave my feet, I didn’t hit his head,” Belanger said. “It’s just bad luck.”
Belanger was given a five-minute major for boarding and a 10-minute game misconduct, forcing the Wild to play short-handed for an extended stretch. The return of Brent Burns, who sat out the pre-season opener and missed the end of last season with a concussion, helped Minnesota keep its lead and hang on for the win.
“Everybody always talks about his skating,” said Wild coach Todd Richards, who won his home debut. “But what impressed me was him going into the corners in the defensive zone. He used his size and strength very well.”
Richards was pleased with Clutterbuck’s play. He said he followed the forward’s emergence last season and knows he has a good shot to go along with his hustle and intensity.
“You like to see players like that score goals,” Richards said.
Goalies Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding stopped 27 shots in the shutout.
The Wild’s NHL-best sellout streak was extended to 366 games, including the pre-season and post-season. There are concerns the streak will end this season because of the economic climate, the loss of star Marian Gaborik through free agency and no post-season appearance in 2008-09.