ST. PAUL, Minn. — Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin is expected back in the lineup Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.
Tyutin has missed the past nine games after sustaining an ankle injury while playing for Russia in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"There's always a lot of excitement when you miss a lot of time," Tyutin said. "You get back with the team, in that team atmosphere. It's nice."
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards deemed Tyutin a game-time decision but it was clear the defenseman expected to make his return.
His four goals and 20 assists in 53 games this season will certainly be a welcome addition for a team scrambling for points in the race toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Columbus enters the day two points behind the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division and one point ahead of the fourth-place Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers have a game in hand on Columbus, and the Blue Jackets have two in hand on the Rangers.
The Wild are locked in a battle for playoff positioning and are in search of points in the Western Conference wild-card race. Minnesota is four points ahead of the Dallas Stars for the top wild-card position and six ahead of the ninth-place Phoenix Coyotes.
"Two desperate teams," Richards said when describing the matchup. "I expect them to come out hard and establish their game. We need to do the same and match their desperation, urgency and work ethic."
Columbus will get a boost up front with the return of forward Artem Anisimov to the lineup. He missed the game against the San Jose Sharks to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. Anisimov said mother and daughter are happy and healthy.
Minnesota had an optional light skate Saturday. Wild coach Mike Yeo wanted to rest his team for a three-games-in-four-nights road trip that begins Monday against the Boston Bruins.
Here are the projected lineups for the Blue Jackets and Wild:
Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - Boone Jenner
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Nathan Horton
RJ Umberger - Artem Anisimov - Cam Atkinson
Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Corey Tropp
Fedor Tyutin - James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin - David Savard
Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout
Scratched: Cody Goloubef, Frederic St. Denis, Matt Frattin, Nick Schultz
Suspended: Blake Comeau
Injured: Jared Boll (ankle), Ryan Murray (knee)
Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Matt Moulson - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter
Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Charlie Coyle
Dany Heatley - Erik Haula - Cody McCormick
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Marco Scandella
Clayton Stoner - Nate Prosser
Scratched: Keith Ballard, Mike Rupp, Justin Fontaine
Injured: Jason Zucker (lower body), Josh Harding (illness), Niklas Backstrom (abdominal)