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Wild's Kuemper in goal vs. Oilers

Minnesota's Dubnyk out with illness; Edmonton's Sekera will play

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

OILERS (26-36-7) at WILD (31-26-10)

TV: 8 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-N, NHL.TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Goaltender Darcy Kuemper will start for the Minnesota Wild against the Edmonton Oilers at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.

Minnesota starting goalie, Devan Dubnyk will be unavailable because of an illness; the Wild recalled Steve Michalek from Iowa of the American Hockey League to serve as Kuemper's backup.

Kuemper said he learned he would be starting Wednesday morning, which has allowed him to prepare differently than he otherwise may have.

"It shouldn't really matter that much but it gives you that extra little bit just to get your mindset ready and a little bit of extra time to focus," Kuemper said. "This late in the season it's easier to just go in there and play."

The Wild also will be without forward Jason Pominville, who will miss the game because of a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. Pominville had tied Kyle Brodziak's Wild record of 232 consecutive games played.

Justin Fontaine will step into Pominville's third-line spot.

"We think [Fontaine] is going to come in and do a good job," Wild interim coach John Torchetti said. "It's a good situation for him. We had him in a checking role before and he's got the good hockey sense offensively to fill it in. We'll miss [Pominville] for sure but someone else gets an opportunity. And it's good that we have extra bodies to have that opportunity to be in the lineup."

Edmonton will be without defenseman Darnell Nurse, who received a three-game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday. He received supplemental discipline under Rule 46.2 Aggressor of an altercation during an incident with San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak on Tuesday.

"I'm a hard player; always have been," Nurse said. "I like to go out and stick up for my teammates. You've got to do it at the right times and in the right way. [Tuesday] was probably a little overboard."

Oilers defenseman Adam Pardy is expected to be a game-time decision because of an undisclosed injury. Pardy did not practice Wednesday but skated briefly Thursday morning. If he can't play, Nikita Nikitin will take his spot in the lineup.

Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said defenseman Andrej Sekera, who did not practice Wednesday, will play Thursday.

Cam Talbot will start in goal for the Oilers.

Here are the projected lineups:


Taylor Hall - Connor McDavid - Zack Kassian

Patrick Maroon - Leon Draisaitl - Jordan Eberle

Lauri Korpikoski - Mark Letestu - Nail Yakupov

Adam Cracknell - Anton Lander - Iiro Pakarinen

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne

Griffin Reinhart - Adam Clendening

Jordan Oesterle - Adam Pardy

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Injured: Oscar Klefbom (leg), Andrew Ference (hip), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand), Brandon Davidson (knee), Benoit Pouliot (shoulder), Eric Gryba (knee)

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Nikita Nikitin

Suspended: Darnell Nurse


Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Jason Zucker - Mikael Granlund - Thomas Vanek

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter - Jarret Stoll - David Jones

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin - Mike Reilly

Darcy Kuemper

Steve Michalek

Injured: Jason Pominville (lower body), Devan Dubnyk (illness)
Scratched: Ryan Carter, Nate Prosser

Status report: Nugent-Hopkins practiced Thursday and could return to the lineup as soon as Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes. He's been out since Jan. 18. ... Pominville is expected to accompany the Wild on their three-game road trip, which start Saturday at the Montreal Canadiens.

Who's hot: Hall has two goals in his past four games. ... Koivu has a point in three straight games.

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