The Wild reconvened Friday at Xcel Energy Center after its mandatory five-day break in the schedule with a familiar face missing and a new one added.
Winger Nino Niederreiter did not skate with the team, as he continues to deal with a lower-body injury that coach Bruce Boudreau announced will keep Niederreiter sidelined until after the All-Star break.
“It’s a setback,” Boudreau said. “But we want to make sure when he does get back he’s healthy.”
This is the third time Niederreiter has been injured this season. He missed six games in October with a high left ankle sprain. Another injury with the ankle kept him out of the lineup for five games in late December and early January.
After that, Niederreiter returned to action for two games – scoring a hat trick in his first game back – before sitting out again with a lower-body injury. It’s unclear if this injury is the same left ankle injury that bothered Niederreiter before.
With Niederreiter out, the Wild recalled winger Kyle Rau from Iowa of the American Hockey League Friday to give the team 13 available forwards.
In 36 games with Iowa, Rau had 11 goals and 21 points. The Eden Prairie native has appeared in 33 NHL games, but Saturday’s game against the Lightning would be his debut with the Wild after he signed a one-year, two-way contract with the team last summer.
Rau would become the 24th Minnesotan to play in the regular season for the Wild.
“Gives us another forward,” Boudreau said. “Gives us a little different dimension. Tampa’s a really fast team. Kyle’s a fast skater, hard worker. So it just gives you options again.”