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At the Rink: Stars at Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild could get three key pieces of their lineup back Saturday when they play the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center.

Defenseman Jonas Brodin could be back after sustaining a hand injury in the first period Monday against the New York Rangers when he was checked into the boards from behind by the Rangers' Chris Kreider. Brodin returned to the game but sat out Tuesday against the Boston Bruins and Thursday against the San Jose Sharks.

Brodin said in addition to his hand he had been sore in a few other spots after the hit, including his neck. But he came to the rink Saturday feeling a little better. He will skate before the game and if he suffers no further setbacks, is expected to rejoin the lineup.

"I'm good but I was pretty sore that day after," Brodin said Saturday.

The Wild had recalled defenseman Jonathon Blum from Iowa of the American Hockey League as insurance in case Brodin couldn't play. Wild coach Mike Yeo said Brodin and Blum will take part in pregame warm ups before a final decision is made.

Another defenseman, Christian Folin, also will return to the lineup Saturday. Folin missed the past six games due to illness.

Forward Erik Haula also will return after missing two games with an upper-body injury also sustained Monday against the Rangers, when he was hit in the head by Rangers defenseman John Moore. Moore was suspended five games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for the hit. Haula was not diagnosed with a concussion, but the Wild wanted to take things slow with the 23-year old center.

Minnesota will be without defenseman Jared Spurgeon after he slid awkwardly into the boards Thursday following an open-ice hit against the Sharks. His injury is not believed to be serious but is expected to keep him out of the lineup for a couple of games.

Forward Matt Cooke did not play Thursday and remains out with a lower-body injury. Another forward, Ryan Carter, has an upper-body injury and will not play. Haula is expected to fill Carter's fourth-line center role.

Dallas, which lost 2-1 in overtime Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, arrived in the Twin Cities early Saturday morning and had an optional skate at Xcel Energy Center. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who made 22 saves against the Ducks on Friday, did not skate but is expected to start against the Wild.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie Benn - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin

Patrick Eaves - Vernon Fiddler - Ales Hemsky

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Erik Cole - Shawn Horcoff - Colton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Jordie Benn - Brenden Dillon

Kevin Connauton - Jamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka

Injured: Sergei Gonchar (ankle), Patrik Nemeth (right arm laceration), Valeri Nichushkin (groin/hip)


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Thomas Vanek - Kyle Brodziak - Nino Niederreiter

Stephane Veilleux - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Matt Dumba - Christian Folin

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Jonathon Blum, Justin Falk

Injured: Jared Spurgeon (shoulder), Keith Ballard (illness), Ryan Carter (upper body), Matt Cooke (lower body), Josh Harding (foot)

Status report: Yeo said the injuries to Cooke and Carter are not expected to keep them out of the lineup for too long. Both could return as soon as Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. ... Gonchar skated with the team Saturday. He has been cleared by doctors to return but Gonchar said he needs to improve his conditioning first. Stars coach Lindy Ruff indicated Gonchar could be back next week.

Who’s hot: Lehtonen has yet to suffer a loss in regulation this season; he's 4-0-4 in eight starts. He has three career shutouts in 15 games against the Wild. ... Zucker has at least one point in four straight games and has seven points in nine games this season.

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