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Wild amps up emphasis on power play performance

Kunin returns to practice; Eriksson Ek expected to miss a week with lower-body injury

by Tricia Luna /

ST. PAUL -- It's been a while since the Wild has had the opportunity for multiple practices in St. Paul since some new faces have joined the lineup.


It's a chance Wild coach Bruce Boudreau used Wednesday to work on polishing the Wild's power play in an effort to find a routine for players like Kevin Fiala, Ryan Donato and Brad Hunt to settle into.


"It certainly does, not being able to practice the power play, we haven't had a power-play goal since after Winnipeg and that was after the trade deadline," Boudreau said. "So hopefully tomorrow we can end that streak."

Since Jason Zucker's third-period power-play goal Feb. 26 at Winnipeg, the Wild's power play hasn't been able to produce. Minnesota has had 18 power play opportunities in the past six games that have gone unfulfilled.

"When we get it set up and make plays, we're getting a lot of chances; we're just not scoring, but what we're not doing is getting second chances, so retrievals are vital in this game," Boudreau said. "Winning the faceoffs or the first faceoff is vital, and it's something we've been lacking lately."

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The Wild will reconvene it's five-game homestand at 7 p.m. Thursday against the Stars and is expected to have some changes in the lineup.

Following a hard hit during the second period on March 7 in Tampa Bay, Luke Kunin missed the past two contests with an upper-body injury. On Wednesday, the forward returned to practice and is expected to suit up Thursday night.

"He's fine, he's ready to play," Boudreau said.

Kunin said he's ready to pick up where he left off.

"It was good to be smart, take a couple of those days off, but hungry to get back and help the team," Kunin said.

As Kunin is set for his return into the lineup, center Joel Eriksson Ek is out due to a lower-body injury. With a timeline of about a week for Ek's return, Boudreau hopes to avoid any longer of a setback.

Defenseman Matt Dumba, who was sided with a ruptured right pectoralis muscle sustained Dec. 15, skated solo Wednesday morning before practice. While there's been no change to the timeline of his return, it seems Dumba has become even more eager to get back on the ice.

"I didn't even know he skated until five minutes ago," Boudreau said. "Nothings changed in his timeline, he was just bored."

Video: Kunin rejoins Wild at practice

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