The Minnesota Wild hope a five-day layoff has provided enough rest for injured stars Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik.
The Wild hope to have their first-line wingers back on the ice Sunday when they open a four-game road trip against Northwest Division foes, starting with the first-place Colorado Avalanche.
Demitra and Gaborik have been bothered by nagging groin injuries, moving in and out of the lineup of late. Demitra has missed five of the last seven games, while Gaborik has been sidelined for three of five.
Gaborik is tied with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu for the team lead with 13 points, and Demitra has 10 in 10 games.
The duo's absence combined with the indefinite leave of absence by center Wes Walz left Minnesota (9-4-2) without its entire top line on Monday in the team's most recent game, a 5-2 home win over Edmonton.
Walz's departure Nov. 1 has been a mystery, with the team only saying it was not related to health or family reasons.
The Wild did get Demitra and Gaborik back Nov. 3 when they opened an eight-game stretch against division opponents with a 4-1 win over Calgary. Gaborik scored two goals and assisted on another in that game, but as he and Demitra sat out Monday, Mark Parrish helped pick up the slack with two goals and Koivu added three assists.
"A lot of times I talk about confidence when you're doing certain things, and it seems like we got that confidence," said Wild coach Jacques Lemaire.
That confidence could grow with the return of Demitra and Gaborik, who combined for three points in a 3-2 win over the Avalanche (10-5-1) on Oct. 21. They both sat out a 3-1 loss at Colorado on Oct. 28.
The Wild, whose road trip also includes visits to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, have won only four of 16 contests at the Pepsi Center.
The Avs are one of the toughest teams in the league at home, going 8-1-0 with the lone loss coming in a 4-3 defeat to Vancouver on Nov. 3.
Colorado lost to the Canucks again Friday, 2-1 in overtime, for just its second defeat in eight games overall. Avs defenseman John-Michael Liles had scored on the power play early in the third period to tie the game.
"Anytime you can get a point on the road, especially when you're down in the third, it's got to be a small victory," Liles said.
Joe Sakic, who assisted on Liles' goal, has 12 points in his last 10 games, including three in the two October matchups with the Wild. Overall, the Avs captain has 33 points in 36 games against Minnesota.
Paul Stastny, Colorado's leader with 19 points, has been held without a point in back-to-back games and appears to be slowing down after opening the season with 14 points in seven contests.
The Avalanche won't play again until opening a four-game road trip Friday at Dallas.