ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota Wild left wing Guillaume Latendresse returned after missing 58 games following injuries to his midsection that required two surgeries and a long rehabilitation.
“I felt better every time I was going on the ice,” he said.
Latendresse received a loud cheer from Wild fans when he first appeared Tuesday night in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche on a line with Eric Nystrom and Brad Staubitz, and he played more than 10 minutes in a limited role.
He made an impact, muscling for position in the crease when Jared Spurgeon scored in the third period and just missing on a one-timer after a slick pass from Martin Havlat.
“Those guys worked so hard to be where we are,” Latendresse said. “You just try to get in that and get into the game and help as much as I can. I think I did the best that I could tonight. I haven’t played for four months, so it’s just going to get better and better.”
After scoring a team-best 25 goals in just 55 games for the Wild last season after arriving in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens, Latendresse needed operations in late November to fix a torn labrum in his hip and a bilateral sports hernia.
Latendresse had three goals and three assists in eight games before he got hurt.
“He hasn’t lost his hockey sense at all. He knows where to go,” teammate John Madden said. “He had a couple good looks tonight, too. I was actually impressed with his game considering how long he’s been laid off.”