ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise returned to the lineup Friday against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center (4 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-N, FS-WI).
Parise returned to practice Thursday for the first time since injuring his right knee Nov. 5 and said he felt comfortable doing everything. He was medically cleared to play and joined teammates for morning skates prior to each of the past two games but had not taken part in contact drills until Thursday.
Parise was injured in a collision with Nashville Predators forward James Neal. He was diagnosed with a sprained MCL in his right knee two days later and was expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Friday is three weeks since his injury.
Parise, who has a history of quick returns from injury, said Thursday he didn't want to rush back too soon and risk something more long-term.
"I've probably learned from mistakes in the past, to listen to the doctors and respect their decisions and follow through on what they have to say," Parise said. "At the end of the day, I wasn't going to play unless I felt safe and comfortable and ready to play. Now, I feel like I'm getting there."
Parise is expected to help lengthen a Wild lineup that has been diminished by injury and illness over the past several weeks.
Forward Justin Fontaine, who has been out since Oct. 30 with a sprained knee, won't play against the Jets but could return when the Wild host the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
"It gets us a little closer to having the other team pick their poison and who they want to match up against," coach Mike Yeo said. "We think that when we're healthy, we have a pretty deep group up front with a number of guys who are capable of contributing offensively."