The severity of the lower-body injury suffered Friday by the Wild’s Nino Niederreiter remains unclear, but the winger will not play Saturday against the Lightning in the team’s final game before the three-day holiday break.
“You don’t want anybody hurt, but I gotta think that it’s not long term for him,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It wasn’t like he broke his foot or anything again.”
Niederreiter left Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Panthers after taking only four shifts in the first period. He skated gingerly off, lifting his left leg as if to not put any weight on it, after he was hit with a clearing attempt along the boards.
“I don’t know if the puck hit him or if his foot banged against the boards,” said Boudreau, who figured Niederreiter was bruised on the play.
As if facing the league’s best wasn’t enough of a test, doing so without a top-six forward certainly amps up the difficulty level of this matchup with the Lightning.
But while the Wild recognized the challenge ahead of the team, the group seemed eager to see how it stacks up.
“You gotta know who’s on the ice and when they’re on the ice and whether or not we’re matching lines,” goalie Alex Stalock said. “That comes down to we gotta know what they have going at all times. But at the same time, it’s up to us how we come out and how we’re ready to go. I think if we get back to shooting pucks and getting to the net, we can have success.”
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Joel Eriksson Ek-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Tyler Ennis-Daniel Winnik-Chris Stewart
Marcus Foligno-Matt Cullen-Zack Mitchell
Ryan Suter- Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon
Mike Reilly-Nate Prosser
200: Consecutive games for defenseman Ryan Suter tonight.
4: Game point streak for defenseman Matt Dumba.
.961: Save percentage for Lightning Andrei Vasilevskiy in three career starts against the Wild.
2-2: The Wild’s record in the second game of a back-to-back.
4-2-1: How the Wild has performed against the Lightning in the two teams’ last seven meetings.
About the Lightning:
With 25 wins and 52 points, the Lightning pace the NHL. Tampa Bay has also scored a league-high 128 goals and boasts the best goal differential at plus-43. Amid its best start in franchise history, the team has tied its longest home win streak at six games. Winger Nikita Kucherov became the first player in the NHL this season to reach 50 paces. He’s in the midst of a six-game point streak, with 10 points in that span.