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At the Rink: Stars at Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Forward Justin Fontaine appears set to return for the Minnesota Wild when they play the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-SW+, FS-N, FS-WI).

Fontaine has missed the past 11 games with a sprained knee sustained in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 30.

"It gives you some more tools and we're going to be able to reassemble our lines the way they were a little earlier in the year when we were having success," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It gives us four lines. We haven't really had this luxury lately. There is a little more competition internally."

Fontaine isn't expected to enter the lineup and start scoring in bunches, but Yeo has indicated he is an important glue guy, as well as a valuable penalty killer. Minnesota has allowed at least one power-play goal in five of the past six games, including one in a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

Fontaine said it's been frustrating sitting out, especially when he felt his game was starting to get going before he got hurt.

"You never want to be out missing any time," Fontaine said. "I've just gotta get back to it as quickly as possible. I'm excited to get going."

The Wild made a tweak to their roster Saturday, recalling defenseman Gustav Olofsson from Iowa of the American Hockey League and reassigning defenseman Christian Folin.

Olofsson made his NHL debut against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 19.

Dallas had an optional skate with only a handful of players taking the ice. Goaltender Antti Niemi remained off the ice, an indication he may start for both ends of the back-to-back set, while Jack Campbell and the injured Kari Lehtonen skated.

The Stars won 3-2 in a shootout against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday at American Airlines Center.

Defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who was a healthy scratch against the Canucks, could play in place of Jyrki Jokipakka.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Sharp

Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Valeri Nichushkin

Colton Sceviour - Vernon Fiddler - Ales Hemsky

Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya - Jason Demers

Patrik Nemeth - Jordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Jack Campbell

Injured: Kari Lehtonen (upper body)

Scratched: Travis Moen, Jamie Oleksiak, Jyrki Jokipakka


Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter

Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter - Jordan Schroeder - Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Gustav Olofsson - Nate Prosser

Darcy Kuemper

Devan Dubnyk

Injured: Marco Scandella (lower body), Tyler Graovac (sports hernia)

Scratched: Niklas Backstrom, Jordan Schroeder, Kurtis Gabriel

Status report: Lehtonen took part in a full morning skate on Saturday and could be ready to return soon. … Kuemper will make his third start and first since Oct. 25.

Who's hot: Seguin has scored a goal in each of his past three road games and has six goals in his past five games away from American Airlines Center. … Suter is averaging a point per game over his past eight games. He has one goal and seven assists over that span.

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