Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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With season on the line, Wild expected to recall Zucker, Veilleux

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild player moves, Wild pregame skate Updated: April 27, 2013 - 8:09 AM

With the Wild's season on the brink and facing a potential must-win tonight at Colorado, the Wild is expected to recall former University of Denver star Jason Zucker and energy bug Stephane Veilleux for tonight's game.

It sounds like Jake Dowell and Carson McMillan will be returned to Houston.

Zucker, 21, has scored four goals and one assist in 19 games for the Wild this year. If Veilleux plays, and at this point, why not, it would be his season debut, 461st NHL game and 383rd for the Wild.

Jason Pominville, I don't believe, traveled to Denver.

Basically, it's simple tonight.

Win and the Wild's in.

Lose in regulation AND Columbus gets one point or two in a home finale against Chris Mason and the emotionally and physically beaten-up Nashville Predators and the Wild will have to deal with the painful aftermath following a remarkable April swoon. The Wild led the Northwest Division after beating Los Angeles in a March 30 shootout.

The Avs, 5-4 shootout winners at Phoenix last night, will be pumped and motivated to eliminate a Wild team that usually beats them on home ice (11-2-2 in the Wild's past 15 in Denver).

The Denver Post's Mike Chambers (@MChambersDP) tweeted last night some quotes from P.A. Parenteau and Matt Duchene:

Parenteau: Parenteau: "We're a proud bunch of guys and we're not going to give (MIN) an inch out there . . . That's what it's all about."

Duchene: "Obviously it's a big one for them. Hopefully the building will be full, and we can knock Minnesota out. That will be real nice. I'd be lying if I said it wouldn't. That's a division rival and team that's had our number for a while."

As I said, massive game. Niklas Backstrom, after being yanked with 1:22 left in the first period (three goals on five shots) of last night's 6-1 home embarrassment at the hands of Edmonton, will be back in net.

He is 10-2-1 in his past 13 at Colorado with a 2.10 goals against average and .935 save percentage. Backstrom is 21-3-4 with a 1.84 goals against average and a .933 save percentage in starts after being pulled (non-injury) in his career, including 17-1-2 with a 1.67 goals against average and a .940 save percentage since March 26, 2008.

The Wild needs Backstrom, who has been arguably overused beyond belief by the Wild, to step up bigtime. Otherwise, soak him in because this could be the last you see of Backstrom in a Wild uniform.

If you didn't read last night's postgame blog, please give it a read below.

Here is the gamer.

Here is Chip Scoggins' rip job.

Here is the notebook, which does have a Dany Heatley update that could soon be irrelevant.

The Wild is not having a morning skate with a 5:30 p.m. MT start. I have to run out of the Delta Sky Club now because I have a flight to catch, but I will be on Fox Sports North during the first intermission tonight.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
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Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
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Chicago WSox 3
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Houston 4
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Minnesota 0
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San Diego 1
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Chicago 86 FINAL
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