ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Detroit Red Wings are expected to have Pavel Datsyuk available when they play the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CITY, FS-D,+, FS-N).
The Wild can clinch a spot in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday. The easiest scenario involves a Minnesota victory in regulation or overtime combined with a loss in regulation by the Calgary Flames. The Flames play at the Edmonton Oilers.
Datsyuk has missed seven of the past nine games for Detroit with a reoccurring lower-body injury.
Datsyuk participated in practice Friday in Detroit before the team flew to Minnesota. Coach Mike Babcock said then Datsyuk would be a game-time or “[Saturday] morning decision.”
The Red Wings did not skate Saturday morning, but Babcock said he expected to have Datsyuk back. Just in case, Babcock said the Red Wings will have an extra player participate in warm-ups.
“We plan on him playing,” Babcock said.
With Datsyuk back, the Wings have seen two of their top three centers return to from injury over the past two days. Third-line pivot Riley Sheahan had an assist against the Boston Bruins on Thursday after missing three games with a concussion.
“I’m all about centers and d-men,” Babcock said. “The deeper you are down the middle, that makes a huge difference and [Datsyuk] is one of the best players in the world offensively and defensively.”
Minnesota had an optional skate Saturday. Defenseman Nate Prosser will return to the lineup after missing eight games with a sprained knee. Jordan Leopold will be a healthy scratch for the first time since being acquired by the Wild on March 2.
Forward Erik Haula will also be back in after he was a healthy scratch in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday, taking the place of Ryan Carter.
Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard will get the start. He hasn’t played since being removed from a game against the San Jose Sharks on March 26 after allowing three goals on 10 shots.
The Wild will counter with Devan Dubnyk, who will make his 36th consecutive start with Minnesota.
Here are the projected lineups:
Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Gustav Nyquist
Darren Helm - Pavel Datsyuk - Tomas Tatar
Teemu Pulkkinen - Riley Sheahan - Stephen Weiss
Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Joakim Andersson
Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall
Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith - Marek Zidlicky
Scratched: Jakub Kindl, Daniel Cleary
Injured: Erik Cole (upper body), Tomas Jurco (upper body), Johan Franzen (concussion), Jonas Gustavsson (concussion)
Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Chris Stewart
Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine
Erik Haula - Kyle Brodziak - Jordan Schroeder
Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba
Scratched: Darcy Kuemper, Ryan Carter, Christian Folin, Jordan Leopold
Injured: Jason Zucker (clavicle), Matt Cooke (sports hernia), Keith Ballard (concussion/facial fractures)
Status report: Kindl or Cleary will skate in warm-ups in case of an unexpected setback for Datsyuk. ... Zucker was cleared for contact in practice on Friday and could return to the lineup as soon as next week.
Who’s hot: Weiss had a goal and an assist on Thursday and has four points in his past five games. ... Vanek had a goal Thursday and has eight goals and 12 points over his past 12 games.