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Milestones just scenery on road to success for Niederreiter

Forward scored 100th assist and 200th point on Sunday against Detroit

by Kayleigh Jackson / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- It hasn't been the smoothest season for Nino Niederreiter. 

Forced to sit out 19 games with a high left ankle sprain and a lower-body injury, the first half of the 2017-18 campaign seemed like a roller coaster. Each time he would recover and re-join the lineup, he would only get a few games in before returning to the press box with a new ailment. 

Despite scoring his second career hat trick -- in one of two games he played between bouts with the same lower-body injury in January -- there were times when it was difficult to shake the rust off. 

However, now healthy and back in the lineup since Feb. 2, Niederreiter has hit milestone after milestone, most recently notching his 100th career assist and 200th career point Sunday night against the Detroit Red Wings. 

Niederreiter drove the puck up through the neutral zone and dished the puck to Mikko Koivu, who passed up the ice to Zach Parise on an odd-man rush. Parise quickly put the puck behind Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, and with that secondary assist Niederreiter hit two nice round numbers at once. 

Video: DET@MIN: Parise finds twine on an odd-man rush

"I didn't know that! That's a great milestone for him," Parise said. "Individually, when you hit milestones like that it's gotta feel good for him."

Niederreiter also recently picked up his 100th career goal, a gritty effort against the Washington Capitals in which he persistently peppered Philipp Grubauer from the doorstep until the rebound snuck past the goalie. Now, his stat sheet is a satisfying split of hundreds. 

He becomes the fourth all-time and second active Swiss native to reach the 200-point and 100-point milestones.

"It's definitely fun; it's just a milestone on the road, I hope, and hopefully many more to come," Niederreiter said. "I think that's the goal for every player, to get as many points as possible and obviously to help the team win as many games as possible." 

Video: Milestone night for Niederreiter

This is the first season since he's been with the Wild that Niederreiter has played fewer than 80 games, in what could have been a disheartening step back for a player whose goal at the start of the season was to light the lamp at least 30 times. 

"Kind of the first real season with having injuries like that, so it's definitely something I learned a lot from," Niederreiter said. 

"It's good for him, I think he'll be happier when he gets his 200th goal and 200th assist," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "Any time you reach a milestone in this league or any league, quite frankly, I think it's great … I think he's getting in better game shape."

Boudreau said Niederreiter is benefiting from more constant time in the lineup and practice, but can still turn his play up another notch. 

With the two newest milestones already fading into the horizon behind him, Niederreiter agrees. "At the end of the day, I want to score more goals than assists, that's for sure," he said. 
 

Injury updates

Luke Kunin, who left Sunday's game against the Red Wings, was at the doctor on Monday. Boudreau expects to know more, including whether or not he'll be available Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes, ahead of the next game. 

Kunin took a hit and went down the tunnel late in the third period. 

Meanwhile, fellow rookie Nick Seeler did not practice with the team following his blockbuster bout against heavyweight Luke Witkowski on Sunday. After the day of rest, he expects to be ready to go Tuesday. 

"Little sore, but not bad," Seeler said.

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