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Wild Hosts Penguins in Black Friday Matinee

Minnesota scored signature win against defending champs earlier this month

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild will try for its second consecutive win and a season series sweep against the Pittsburgh Penguins when the two clubs clash for a Black Friday matinee at Xcel Energy Center.

Eric Staal had a goal and two assists and Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter each had one goal and one assist as the Wild won 4-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Nov. 10.

Defeating the defending Stanley Cup champions on their home ice is hard enough with a full roster, but the Wild did it down a pair of regulars. Both Zach Parise and Marco Scandella missed the game with injuries but have returned in the two weeks since the teams met up in the Steel City.

Scandella returned to the lineup Wednesday in a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center. The defenseman had missed the previous 10 games because of a high ankle sprain, but acquitted himself nicely in his return, putting two shots on goal in over 12 minutes of ice time. 

"Like any guy that's first back, we wanted him to make simple plays and not over-handle the puck," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "He was probably a little nervous. It doesn't matter how many years you got in you, your first game back is a tentative one ... He'll be better the next game and better the game after that."

Parise has played in four games since returning from a lower-body injury, but missed one game because of strep throat.

Parise wasn't himself in either of his first two games back. After missing a 3-2 loss against the Colorado Avalanche last Saturday, Parise returned in a 3-2 overtime loss on Monday, but struggled to find his footing.

But Boudreau said after practice on Tuesday that Parise appeared to be getting his jump back.

He broke through against the Jets, scoring an empty-net goal to ice the game with 30 seconds remaining, but easily could have been on the scoresheet a handful of other times. 

"Usually, that's what happens," Boudreau said. "You might not get one the way you would like to get one, but if you work hard, you get rewarded and sometimes you get the empty-netter."

The line of Parise, Staal and Coyle was all over the ice Wednesday and will need to be again if the Wild hopes to take down Pittsburgh for a second time this month.

The Penguins are coming off an impressive 6-1 win over one of the NHL's hottest teams, the New York Rangers, at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Sidney Crosby, who has been on a tear all season, scored a pair of goals and now has 14 in just 14 games this season. He missed Pittsburgh's first six games of the season but has been on fire since. He scored one of the Pens' two goals against the Wild two weeks ago. 

"This is as good of a game as we've played all year," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said afterward.

Pittsburgh, which had won six of its previous seven games before Minnesota's win earlier this month, has gone 3-2-1 in six games since.

The Wild is 3-3-1 over that same stretch. 

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