TAMPA – Forward Zack Parise is a game-time decision to return to the lineup after missing a game when the Minnesota Wild take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday.
Parise missed the first game of Minnesota's (20-10-6) four-game road trip, a 3-1 win against the St. Louis Blues, with a knee injury. He practiced on Friday and was a full participant in the team's optional skate Saturday.
"I would hope we have a decision before game time," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "But we will divulge our lineup at game time. We'll see [Saturday] night."
Yeo spoke to the media before the Wild's morning skate. Parise said he felt good, but wanted to speak with the coaching staff first.
"I haven't talked to the coaches yet, I want to talk to them and tell them how it went and we'll go from there," Parise said. "I think at this point, it's up to me whether it's safe or not."
Tampa Bay (18-16-4) will start goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in place of Ben Bishop, and likely will insert forward Ondrej Palat into the lineup.
Bishop left practice early Friday with a minor tweak but said he was fine and participated in the morning skate Saturday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the team originally planned to start Vasilevskiy on Saturday and bring him for the upcoming four-game road trip starting Tuesday.
Vasilevskiy has moved back and forth between Tampa and Syracuse of the American Hockey League so he can play in more games. He is 3-4 with a .907 save percentage and 2.94 goals-against-average this season.
"It's tough when you're not playing," Cooper said. "Part of the opportunity of when you can go down to the minors without needing waivers…is so you can get your timing, get your game shape…get everything into play. Especially with how well [Bishop] is playing. That's the best thing for the player and the team."
Palat is returning after missing the past eight games with a lower-body injury. His return will re-unite the Triplets line of Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov. While Palat and Johnson have struggled with injuries, Kucherov has been having a strong season with 13 goals and 16 assists. He's on a seven-game point streak with two goals and nine assists.
Cooper said the Wild are a tough team and a good measuring stick.
"They don't really hurt themselves, they are like a machine," Cooper said. "They play their system and they do it for 60 minutes, and you have to kind of play that chess game with them. They are fun games to be part of. I am really impressed [with them]."
Here are the projected lineups:
Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Thomas Vanek - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker
Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine
Chris Porter - Jarret Stoll - Erik Haula
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin
Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba
Injured: Darcy Kuemper (undisclosed)
Scratched: Jordan Schroder, Ryan Carter
Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
J.T. Brown - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Vladislav Namestnikov - Brian Boyle - Jonathan Marchessault
Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman
Jason Garrison - Braydon Coburn
Andrej Sustr - Nikita Nesterov
Injured: Joel Vermin (hand surgery)
Scratched: Matthew Carle, Erik Condra
Status Update: Haula also took part in the morning skate after missing practice Friday and is a game-time decision. ... Condra is in line to be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game.
Who's Hot: Kucherov had two assists Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers. ...Haula had a goal and an assist Thursday in a 3-1 win against the St. Louis Blues.