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Preview: Wild at Penguins

Erik Haula could return to Minnesota lineup; Marc-Andre Fleury to be in goal for Pittsburgh

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

WILD (6-4-1) at PENGUINS (9-2-2)

7 p.m. ET; ROOT, FS-N, NHL.TV

 

Wild team scope

Forward Erik Haula could return after missing seven games because of a lower-body injury. Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said he told Haula to inform him if he felt well enough to play after an optional morning skate Thursday. Haula, who is a game-time decision, did not confirm his availability but said he's leaning toward playing. "The skates have been good and the progression from the skates have been good," he said. "It's gone really well, so I think I'm good to go." The Wild will play for the first time since a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. They have lost two straight games to start November after winning their previous three at the end of October. Goalie Devan Dubnyk has a 1.46 goals-against average and .951 save percentage, which rank second and third in the NHL among goalies to play at least five games. He has allowed fewer than three goals in seven consecutive starts, which included a streak of three straight shutouts Oct. 25-29. The Wild have killed 93.5 percent of penalties, which leads the NHL. They also lead the League by allowing 2.00 goals per game. Forward Mikko Koivu, 33, needs two assists to reach 400 in the NHL.

 

Penguins team scope

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start after backing up goalie Matt Murray the previous two games. Fleury, who was the first goalie off the ice following the Pittsburgh Penguins' morning skate, is 6-2-2 with a 3.07 GAA and .908 save percentage in 10 games. He last played Nov. 3, when he made 24 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Los Angeles Kings. Forward Sidney Crosby failed to score for the first time in seven games this season in a 4-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. Crosby has eight goals and 10 points since returning from a concussion that sidelined him for the first six games of the season. "He has played inspiring hockey for our team for a long time," coach Mike Sullivan said. "We've grown to expect it. I just think it speaks to how hungry he is to be the best." Six of the Penguins' seven home games have been decided by one goal, and they are 5-1-0 in those games. The forward lines and defense pairs are expected to be same as they were Tuesday. Forward Conor Sheary is expected to play left wing on the third line, along with center Nick Bonino and right wing Bryan Rust, for a second consecutive game. Forward Scott Wilson should play fourth-line left wing.

 

Wild projected lineup

Nino Niederreiter -- Eric Staal -- Charlie Coyle

Mikael Granlund -- Mikko Koivu -- Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Chris Stewart

Christoph Bertschy -- Tyler Graovac -- Zack Mitchell

Ryan Suter -- Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin -- Christian Folin

Nate Prosser -- Jared Spurgeon

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Mike Reilly

Injured: Zach Parise (lower body), Erik Haula (lower body), Marco Scandella (high right ankle sprain), Zac Dalpe (lateral meniscus tear), Victor Bartley (torn triceps)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Carl Hagelin -- Sidney Crosby -- Patric Hornqvist

Chris Kunitz -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Conor Sheary -- Nick Bonino -- Bryan Rust

Scott Wilson -- Matt Cullen -- Eric Fehr

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury

Matt Murray

Scratched: Tom Kuhnhackl, Steve Oleksy, Tom Sestito

Injured: Derrick Pouliot (lower body)

 

Status report

The Penguins recalled Sestito from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League and re-assigned defenseman Chad Ruhwedel on Wednesday. … The Wild recalled Bertschy, Mitchell and Reilly from Iowa of the AHL on Wednesday. Mitchell, 23, could make his NHL debut Thursday.

 

Who's hot

Sheary scored two goals Tuesday in his second game back from an eye injury. … Dubnyk has allowed three goals on the past 150 shots he's faced in the past five games.

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