Wild: Joel Eriksson Ek tried to play through broken leg in Game 3

Joel Eriksson Ek #14 of the Minnesota Wild warms up before Game Three of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center on April 21, 2023 in St Paul, Minnesota.  ((Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images))

The Minnesota Wild are left to reflect on what could’ve been after a 4-1 Game 6 loss to the Dallas Stars Friday night, eliminating them from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the sixth straight year and seventh time in eight seasons, the Wild couldn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2015, and winger Ryan Hartman was one of a few players after the season-ending loss to voice his frustration.

Wild fans energized and ready to explode booed the team off the ice after both the second and third periods. Friday night.

"I’m sick to my stomach. This city deserves better than what we gave them. We failed them," Hartman said.

Monday, the team started holding exit interviews and cleaning out their lockers, now in offseason mode. Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek revealed he tried to return for Game 3 at Xcel Energy Center with a broken left fibula, suffered while blocking a shot late in the regular season.


Minnesota Wild season ends in 4-1 Game 6 loss to Dallas Stars

The Minnesota Wild season came to an end Friday night in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center.

Eriksson Ek missed the first two games, then tried to go for Game 3. He lasted 19 seconds on the opening shift before heading to the bench, and did not return. He had surgery to repair the injury, and was sporting a walking boot on his left leg at Game 6 last Friday.

"It didn’t hold up," Eriksson Ek said. "Everyone says it, it’s just so hard to sit there and just watch. That’s harder than actually being out there. You want to be out there, try to do your best to help the team. This year, it just sucks. You play a whole season and right before the playoffs you get hurt."

He played in 78 regular season games, and was fourth on the Wild with 61 points. His 23 goals were third behind Matt Boldy and Kirill Kaprizov. His 38 assists were behind only Mats Zuccarello’s 45.

Just as concerning as Eriksson Ek’s injury as the offensive absence of Kaprizov and Boldy. The top two offensive players on the roster had four combined points in six games. Boldy had three assists and zero goals after 31 in the regular season. Kaprizov led the Wild in scoring, then didn’t have a point after the first period of Game 1. He went more than 370 minutes without a point.

Meanwhile, Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz combined for 19 points, including seven goals, for the Stars. The Wild’s best players simply didn’t produce in the season’s biggest moments.