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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Anaheim

Kaprizov expected to return from upper-body injury Friday night when Wild hosts Ducks in St. Paul

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /
The essentials

Who: Anaheim Ducks (19-13-7, 45 points) at Minnesota Wild (21-10-2, 44 points)

Puck drop: 7:08 p.m. CT

Watch: Bally Sports North

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3; Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; @mnwildscribe; GameCenter

🎟 Tickets

The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling

ST. PAUL -- For the first time in nearly a week, the Wild will be back in action on Friday night when it hosts the Anaheim Ducks at Xcel Energy Center.

After having a pair of games north of the border postponed this week due to COVID-19-related attendance limits in Winnipeg and Edmonton, the Wild has remained home since a 3-2 shootout win over the Washington Capitals last Saturday.

It was a memorable win for the Wild, which was without nine regulars because of injuries and illness. While Minnesota isn't back to full health, it will get some reinforcements back on Friday against the Ducks.

The most prominent of those will be Kirill Kaprizov, who missed the game against the Caps after sustaining an upper-body injury in the second period of a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Jan. 6.

Kaprizov leads the club with 40 points this season and is tied for second with 14 goals. 

Video: Dean Evason Thursday practice update

Jordan Greenway, who has missed the past two games on the COVID-19 protocol list, will return. So will Brandon Duhaime, who has also missed the past two games on the COVID-19 protocol list. 

Unfortunately for the Wild, Joel Eriksson Ek will not play because of COVID-19 protocols. Eriksson Ek has missed the past three games because of an upper-body injury, but appeared primed to return to the lineup from that until his positive test. 

Eriksson Ek's status for Monday's game in Colorado is also up in the air. 

"Yeah I'm sure it's real disappointing for him, but it's disappointing for all of us," said Wild coach Dean Evason. "He's practiced real well all week and looked good. His progression has been great. And then this happens ... but it has happened, but he'll completely heal up now, right?"

With both Ek and Greenway originally slated to return, Evason had put together that duo with Marcus Foligno in a reunion of that line. But with Ek out, Victor Rask will slot into the lineup instead. 

"We've been through it so much now, right?" Evason said. "There might have been a little more disappointment early on, but there's nothing you can do. There's nothing. So nobody gets upset any more ... it's just reality and we move forward."

Video: Jordan Greenway Thursday practice update

Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who missed the game against Washington because of protocols, "has a window," according to Evason, but remains very unlikely to play on Friday night because he hasn't skated in a week. 

On the injury front, the Wild remains without defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin as well as goaltender Cam Talbot, although Spurgeon and Talbot seem to be making solid progress in their recoveries. 

Anaheim is playing the first of back-to-back games against Central Division foes on Friday. It will play in Chicago against the Blackhawks on Saturday night. 

It made one COVID-19-related roster move on Thursday, activating Sam Carrick from protocol while placing Simon Benoit on the protocol list. Brendan Guhle was recalled from San Diego of the American Hockey League to take Benoit's place on the roster. 

Anaheim did get Hampus Lindholm and Derek Grant back from COVID-19 protocol prior to its 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night at the Honda Center. 

The Ducks are 2-4-1 since Christmas and have traded wins and losses since Jan. 1. The loss to the Penguins finished a four-game homestand that saw Anaheim go 2-2-0. 

Goaltender Anthony Stolarz made 30 saves in the loss to the Penguins and has been outstanding this season, posting a 2.29 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in 12 games (11 starts this season). 

Regular starter John Gibson has been solid too, going 12-9-6 with a 2.64 goals against and a .917 save percentage, helping to lead the Ducks to second place in the Pacific Division. Anaheim and Vegas, the two teams atop the Pacific, have each played an NHL high 39 games already and are approaching the halfway points in their seasons. 

By comparison, Minnesota has played six fewer games and has one less point than Anaheim. No team in the Western Conference has played fewer games than the Wild and only Ottawa (30) and the New York Islanders (29) have played fewer games in the NHL this season.

The Ducks offense is paced by forward Troy Terry, who leads the team and entered the day Thursday fifth in the NHL with 22 goals. He is the only Duck to have reached double digits in the goal-scoring column.

Trevor Zegras and Sonny Milano each have nine goals while Zegras has 18 assists and Milano 16. 

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