The Minnesota Wild will go for their third win in a row when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night in Saint Paul.
Minnesota is coming off back-to-back victories over the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. That snapped a five-game winless skid for the streaky Wild, who had won eight in arow before that drought.
Now, the Wild will be getting back important reinforcements in the form of top scorer Kirill Kaprizov, along with forwards Brandon Duhaime and Jordan Greenway. Kaprizov sustained an upper-body injury a week ago against the Bruins, while Duhaime and Greenway were sidelined in the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocol, but all three returned to practice and are expected to play Friday.
Kaprizov has 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 32 games this season. No other player on the team has 30 points.
Kaprizov's productivity is why coaches and players were so alarmed when he was injured on a boarding penalty by Bruins forward Trent Frederic. It's also why they are so happy about his expected return after missing only one full game.
"He's obviously built firmly," Wild head coach Dean Evason said. "He's in great shape. The players are in such terrific shape they can recover quickly from those types of things, and certainly he's in that category."
Anaheim has alternated wins and losses in each of its past four games. It is coming off a 4-1 defeat against the Pittsburgh Penguins on home ice Tuesday night.
This is the start of a quick two-game road trip for the Ducks, who also will visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
"I do believe our guys were trying," Anaheim head coach Dallas Eakins said after the loss to the Penguins. "They were trying to keep level-headed and neutral in their thinking coming out of the first (period). I did think we got better as the game went on, but it just took a while for us to get our feet underneath us."
This will be the third meeting of the season between the teams. Minnesota is 2-0 so far with a 2-1 road victory on Oct. 15 and a 4-3 win in overtime on Oct. 23 in Saint Paul.
Anaheim's top scorer is Troy Terry, who has 36 points (22 goals, 14 assists) in 38 games. Trevor Zegras is next with 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) and Sonny Milano rounds out the young top three with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists).
After Kaprizov, the Wild's second leading scorer is Ryan Hartman with 28 points (15 goals, 13 assists). Mats Zuccarello ranks third on the team with 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists).
This will be the first game for Wild defenseman Jon Merrill since he signed a three-year, $3.6 million extension on Tuesday. Merrill said his family remained based in Denver for the start of the season but now can embrace its new home.
"To be able to bring my family here and for them to join me in Minnesota is really important for me and something I've been working for for years now, to give my family some sort of stability," he said. "I'm just really thankful that it's worked out here."
--Field Level Media