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Red-hot Mitchell confident in latest return to NHL

Recalled from Iowa on Tuesday, Mitchell eager for another crack with Minnesota

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has preached accountability in his one-plus seasons behind the bench with Minnesota, and one of those staples is rewarding guys playing well in Iowa.

With the minor-league club in Des Moines playing well, the Minnesota team wanted to reward its most consistent player, forward Zack Mitchell, who has five goals and 11 assists in 11 games with Iowa this season.

Mitchell has points in seven of his past eight games, with five of those games being multi-point efforts. During that stretch he has five goals and 10 assists and is a plus-4.

Since his last game with Minnesota on Oct. 28, Mitchell has five goals and nine assists in seven games with Iowa.

"I'm playing with some really good players down there," Mitchell said. "[Pat] Cannone and [Christoph] Bertschy, they're really good players and they deserve a lot of the credit for that. And it's nice to come up here with a little bit of confidence and having some of that offensive success."

Boudreau said he could notice that swagger on the ice during practice at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday.

"Mitchell has been at the top of the heap down there almost every game this year," Boudreau said. "Just today, in the little things we were doing in practice, you can see the confidence of making little sauce passes and going top shelf. He was doing that and feeling good about it. I think it'll be interesting to see him play tomorrow."

Mitchell has had good success in limited time with Minnesota this season, scoring a goal and an assist and posting a plus-2 in five games with the Wild.

Minnesota also sent forwards Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin to Iowa, where Boudreau wants to see his two prized rookies get plenty of ice time and play in all scenarios. 

Foligno, Ennis prep for Buffalo return

Wednesday's game between Minnesota and Buffalo Sabres will be a special trip to upstate New York for two Wild players, as Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis will play against their former team for the first time since a summertime trade.

For Foligno, it will mark a special homecoming one day before Thanksgiving. Born in Buffalo, Foligno said he'll have almost a dozen friends and family in attendance.

"It's going to be a lot of fun, I think," Foligno said. "It'll be weird at first but I think I just need to approach it like any other game. But it'll be nice to see some familiar faces, [I have] a lot of really good friendships with teammates I had there last year and there's a lot of good people in that organization.

"Just gotta make sure we go there and get two points and make it sweeter."

Foligno was a fourth-round pick of the Sabres in the 2009 NHL Draft and played parts of six seasons in Buffalo, scoring 49 goals and 116 points in 347 games there.

Video: The return to Buffalo and Mitchell call up

Ennis was also a career Sabre until the June 30th trade that brought him and Foligno to Minnesota in exchange for Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville. The two teams also swapped mid-round draft picks in the deal.

A first-round selection by Buffalo in 2008, Ennis struggled with injuries over his final two seasons with the Sabres, playing in a total of just 74 games during that span and scoring eight goals and 24 assists in those two seasons.

Despite his excitement for a fresh start in Minnesota, Ennis was a three-time 20-goal scorer in Buffalo and has plenty of good memories from there.

"It should be nice to see some of the guys, the trainers and some of the staff," Ennis said. "But mostly the focus is on just getting a win."

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