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Cullen hopes to spark Wild in return from injury

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- After missing six games with a lower-body injury, center Matt Cullen is ready to return to the Minnesota Wild with the hope of injecting some life into their playoff push.

The Wild are just 3-6-1 over their past 10 games and have won just once since Cullen's injury, but remain seventh in the Western Conference and have a chance at two points against the Calgary Flames on Monday night.

It's been tough to watch, Cullen admitted.

"We've gone through a tough stretch of games, some serious playoff quality teams," he said. "You never want to miss that and its been awfully tough watching."

Cullen has seven goals and 25 points in 35 game this season.

While that secondary scoring is welcomed on a club that has found the back of the net just seven times in their past six games, Wild coach Mike Yeo hopes Cullen can spark two struggling stars in Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu.

Parise had just three assists during Cullen's absence while Koivu is pointless in seven.

"It certainly makes it a little bit easier for teams just to target them and make sure that I think teams looking at our lineup the last little bit -- the fact that we weren't having much secondary scoring -- they figured if they could really shut down Mikko and Zach, they'd have a pretty good chance of getting a win," Yeo said. "I think that that probably makes that a little more difficult now."

Cullen will slot in on Minnesota's second line with Jason Zucker and Devin Setoguchi, a line that had been clicking for the Wild.

"The way that they were playing, obviously we'd like to see them get back to that level very quickly," Yeo said. "I also think just mentally, the confidence that adds to the group is obviously a welcomed addition and an important part of our team."

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Devin Setoguchi - Matt Cullen - Devin Setoguchi

Cal Clutterbuck - Torrey Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Charlie Coyle - Kyle Brodziak - Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Brett Clark - Jared Spurgeon

Clayton Stoner - Tom Gilbert

Niklas Backstrom

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Nate Prosser, Mikael Granlund, Justin Falk

Injured: Josh Harding (illness), Dany Heatley (shoulder), Zenon Konopka (lower body)

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