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At the Rink: Canadiens at Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will miss his first game in four seasons Wednesday when the Minnesota Wild play the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center (7 p.m. ET, SN).

Suter has not missed a game since signing with the Wild in July 2012, playing all 153 games in the regular season and 18 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The defenseman is sick; the Wild aren't sure if it's the flu or the mumps.

"We're hoping it's just illness, but we won't know until we get the blood work," coach Mike Yeo said. "He doesn't have swollen glands, but there are a couple of symptoms he has that would make us concerned that it could be that [mumps]."

Suter leads the NHL in average time on ice this season at 29:19 per game. His plus-10 rating is best on the Wild and his 12 assists are tied for the team lead.

"We're missing a guy who plays 30 minutes a night," Yeo said. "That's half the game. There's no question that's a void. That void is going to have to be filled by Marco [Scandella] and [Jared Spurgeon] and [Jonas Brodin] eating up more ice time. But it's also going to be up to the other guys, that they're ready to respond and be prepared."

Suter will be the fifth Wild defenseman to miss a game because of illness this season. Scandella, Brodin, Christian Folin and Keith Ballard have had the mumps, with some missing as few as two games (Scandella) to as many as eight (Ballard).

Spurgeon also missed several games last month with a shoulder injury.

"It seems like we've been approaching it all year," Yeo said. "We've really been missing at least someone in our top-four for a good chunk of the year. These guys are really valuable to the defensive part of our game and they eat up a lot of minutes, play special teams for us. But they're also a huge part of our execution, getting the puck to our forwards and creating offense."

The Wild recalled Folin from the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League on Tuesday. He will jump into Suter's spot in the lineup next to Brodin.

"We have to understand that there's going to be times where the game isn't going to look perfect for us," Yeo said. "We have to be prepared for a hard game … and we're doing everything we can to help out our [defensemen]."

The Wild reassigned defenseman Justin Falk to Iowa following the morning skate Wednesday. Falk has played in three games with Minnesota this season but hadn't played in a game since being recalled last Saturday.

Darcy Kuemper will get the start in goal for Minnesota. Carey Price was first off for Montreal and is the expected starter.

Here are the projected lineups:


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - PA Parenteau

Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Brandon Prust - Lars Eller - Jiri Sekac

Eric Tangradi - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Sergei Gonchar - Alexei Emelin

Tom Gilbert - Mike Weaver

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Bryan Allen

Injured: Michael Bournival (shoulder)


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Charlie Coyle

Ryan Carter - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin

Keith Ballard - Nate Prosser

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Stu Bickel

Injured: Ryan Suter (illness), Matt Cooke (hip)

Status report: Bournival has skated three straight days and could be back as soon as this weekend. He hasn’t played in a game since sustaining a shoulder injury Nov. 4 against the Buffalo Sabres. ... Cooke has been skating on his own recently and was hoping to get on the ice with teammates for the first time during the morning skate Wednesday. Cooke did not skate Wednesday but that's because he's been sick. He will miss his 16th straight game Wednesday.

Who’s hot: Pacioretty has a goal in each of the past two games. He leads the Canadiens and is sixth in the NHL with 12 goals this season. ... In seven games since returning from a concussion, Parise has five goals, three assists and a plus-3 rating.

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