ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke is ready to return to hitting and being hit at high speeds and throwing his body in the path of slap shots. He figures those dangerous pursuits are far better for his health than the past two weeks of watching others do that work.
He served the final game of his seven-game suspension during the Wild's 4-0 victory Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round series. He is eligible to return Friday in Game 4 at Xcel Energy Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.
Cooke was suspended by the NHL in the first round for a knee-on-knee hit on Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. At the time, the Wild were trailing the series 2-0, but came back by winning four of the next five games, including erasing four one-goal deficits in an overtime victory in Game 7 on the road.
According to Wild coach Mike Yeo, Cooke will most likely return to active duty Friday, although he has not decided who the forward will replace in the lineup.
"The last couple of weeks, I think I earned myself an ulcer watching games," Cooke said during a press conference Wednesday morning at Xcel Energy Center. "Obviously the team's played great, but it's tough to sit and watch. I pride myself on being a guy that performs and has a game built for the playoffs, and it's not fun to sit and watch."