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Vanek, Zucker Each Back In Lineup For Wild

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Forwards Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker, who were each healthy scratches on Saturday, will be back in the lineup on Tuesday when the Minnesota Wild hosts the Dallas Stars.

In the midst of a five-game losing streak (0-4-1), and having dropped 10 of its past 11 (1-9-1), Head Coach Mike Yeo said he was trying to send a message by scratching two forwards who had played in each of Minnesota's games up until that point.

With Vanek and Zucker, and as is the case with the rest of the roster, Head Coach Mike Yeo said he's looking for a response.

"That’s the key word," Yeo said. "Obviously that's a tough thing for those players, to be scratched. There's a reason why we were doing it as far as whether you want to call it a message to them, but also a message to the team as well."

Vanek and Zucker each said they know they have another level to get to in their game.

"It didn't take a scratch for me to realize that I need to be better," Vanek said. "I'm just trying to find my game, I still am, and I’ll start tonight by being better."

Zucker said getting back into the lineup, it has to be more about playing well, and not sending a message.

"You start doing that, you start thinking too much, and you're not going to play your game, anyway," he said. "For me, it's just trying to get back to my game that I know I can get to, and try to do it early."

The Wild will be without defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who sustained a deep bruise against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Yeo said Spurgeon remains a possibility to play Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

Minnesota will have captain Mikko Koivu, who will play after leaving practice on Monday early with some discomfort.

Short a defenseman, the Wild recalled Mike Reilly from Iowa on Tuesday, and he will play his fifth career NHL game on Tuesday against the team he debuted against in January. 

"I guess I kind of know them a little bit, but they're going to be a team that's going to be hungry, and try to get back atop the standings," Reilly said. "When I got the call yesterday I was pretty excited."

Darcy Kuemper will also start in goal for the Wild. Devan Dubnyk had started each of the past four games (0-3-1) for Minnesota.

"This has definitely not been [Dubnyk's] fault," Yeo said. "Even watching his game, and evaluating it closely afterwards, I'm not going to say that he's playing badly. He's not.

"But you can tell that he's grinding right now, you can tell that, like everybody, the losses have gotten to him, and obviously [Kuemper] has been part of this, but not to that level, and I think he's probably got a little bit of a different mindset, and a little bit of a fresher mind coming into the game."

Here is the Wild's projected lineup:

Zach PariseMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Nino NiederreiterMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Thomas VanekErik HaulaJason Zucker

Ryan CarterJarret StollJustin Fontaine

Ryan SuterChristian Folin

Marco ScandellaMatt Dumba

Nate ProsserMike Reilly

Darcy Kuemper

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