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Wild's Suter finally back at his best after ankle injury

Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) scores against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Cam Ward (30) in the third period Thursday, Oct. 11, at Xcel Energy Center. Brad Rempel / USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL—Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was careful with his words following Thursday's 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

While the coach emphatically agreed when asked whether he thought it was the best that star defenseman Ryan Suter has looked since returning from a broken right ankle, he jokingly backtracked a few seconds after giving his initial answer.

"Well, I don't want to say by far, because then he'll get mad at me," Boudreau said with a laugh. "It was his best game."

All jokes aside, the fact that Suter looks like his old self again is great news for the Wild.

Besides playing a team-high 26 minutes, 37 seconds, Suter also scored the tying goal from the edge of the crease with less than 30 seconds to play.

"It was just desperation," Suter explained of his goal, acknowledging that he's rarely down that low on the ice. "It was just trying to get to the net and help out."

"He's always giving it to me telling me he's got the bungee cord out," added Matt Dumba, who is known for pinching up, sometimes a little too much. "I was saying the same to him after that game. He was down around the goal line and sniffing around the crease. I liked it. It was awesome. It was definitely a fun game to play in."

Suter also added a pair of assists, including one on the winning goal from Jason Zucker in the extra session.

"He got points and was really active in the offensive zone," Boudreau said of Suter. "To me, that meant he was really hungry to score. We know when he plays like that he's really good."

That performance served as a payoff for Suter after he worked this offseason to recover from the a broken right ankle. He suffered the injury on March 31 against the Dallas Stars, and while there was initial fear that it could be a career-ending injury, Suter tried not to let negative thoughts creep into his mind.

Instead, he attacked the recovery process, setting a goal of being ready for the first day of training camp, and perhaps unsurprisingly, he accomplished that goal.

Now the focus for Suter shifts to continuing to find his legs, though it appears he's already well on his way to doing that.

"It's a pretty big injury to come back from," Dumba said. "He's made it look easy with how tough he is.."

Zucker steps up

While most of the veterans on the team stepped up during Thursday's win, no player was more impressive than Zucker. He finished with a pair of goals, including the game-winner, and added an assist. Oh, and he had a career-high 10 shots on goal.

All of this came after Zucker talked about how some of the big-name players needed to step up.

"He's gotten to that age," Boudreau said, "where he's played enough and is going to be around enough that he wants to be a leader. Hopefully he can continue to play like that."