LOS ANGELES – Struggling Wild winger Nino Niederreiter was back on the fourth line to start Monday’s game. In 16 games since returning from the Olympics, Niederreiter entered Monday with two goals, three assists and 19 shots. He had taken three penalties in the past four games.
“It just seems like plays are happening fast for him right now,” coach Mike Yeo said Monday morning. “We’ve talked to him, we’ve challenged him, but at the same time we’ve tried to pat him on the back and let him feel good about himself. “There’s no question that we know there’s another level to his game. He’s just got to take a deep breath and settle down and play the game.”
But Niederreiter’s night didn’t last long. He was injured three shifts into his game when he was clocked with an open-ice hit by Jake Muzzin. He pinballed into Kings center Jeff Carter and left the game.
Heatley scratched again
Wild veteran Dany Heatley was scratched for a second consecutive game.
“The pregame skate in Phoenix, the assistant coaches really complimented him in how hard he worked in all the extra work he was doing,” Yeo said. “[Sunday], real good practice. So he’s doing everything that he can right now. That’s the key for me, use these practices to build the confidence back up, to get feeling good about yourself, and then that way when you get back in there, you’ll be ready to take advantage in it.”
• Former NHL player J.P. Parise is traveling with the Wild during its road trip, so he was in Phoenix when his son, Zach, scored two goals Saturday to pass him with 239 career goals. “The nice part: It took me 12 years to do it. He did it in seven,” J.P. Parise said.
• Keith Ballard missed his eighth consecutive game because of a groin injury but is “very close” to returning, coach Mike Yeo said.