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Pominville Takes Full Practice, Could Play Thursday

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Forward Jason Pominville practiced in full with the Wild on Wednesday, and could possibly return on Thursday when it hosts the Calgary Flames in Saint Paul.

Pominville, who has missed the past seven games with a lower-body injury, took morning skate on Tuesday prior to the Wild's 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings. Wednesday was his first full practice with his teammates, the next step in drawing back into the lineup.

"It was nice to get an actual skate in, and a full practice, and not a morning skate," Pominville said. "I felt fine, and I guess we'll go from there."

Neither Pominville nor interim Head Coach John Torchetti would commit to Pominville playing in his first game in 18 days, but Pominville said Tuesday he has liked the progress in his recovery lately.

"Pominville looked good today," Torchetti said. "We’ll see how he feels tomorrow after morning skate, then make a judgment call after that."

In practice, he skated on a line with Nino Niederreiter and Erik Haula, a spot he occupied prior to his injury.

Since Torhcetti took over as the Wild's coach 19 games ago, Haula has seven goals and nine assists, and is currently riding a career best six-game point streak, and Niederreiter has nine goals and seven assists.

"We've had some success in the past," Pominville said. "They've played well for us lately. It was fun to kind of have a chance to sit back and see them play as well as they have recently, and hopefully we can keep doing what we do best."

Forward Zach Parise and goaltender Devan Dubnyk both did not participate in practice on Wednesday. Torchetti said they were both out for maintenance.

Whatever lineup the Wild dresses on Thursday, with a showdown looming on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche, the Wild doesn't want to turn Calgary into a trap game.

"You don't want that to creep into our minds," Pominville said. "At the same time, we're all human; we all know that game is going to be important for us. But we have to focus on what we have to do tomorrow and then go from there."

With a victory on Tuesday, the Wild passed Colorado in the standings, now leading the Avalanche by a point. Colorado has played one fewer game than Minnesota, and holds the first tiebreaker with 34 regulation and overtime wins compared to the Wild's 32.

Colorado hosts the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

"I’m not even worrying about Saturday," Torchetti said. "I’m just worrying about the first period tomorrow, and being better in our battles, and better on our dump-ins, and our chip-ins, and our forecheck.

"Just on our breakout and wall play. That’s the number one thing that we talked about today. That’s what we worked on. Just come in with a good strong first 20 minutes."

Forward Thomas Vanek, who has been a healthy scratch the past three games, took Parise's spot in practice on a line with Mikael Granlund and David Jones.

With Pominville back, forward Justin Fontaine took drills on the fourth line.

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