ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Wild is getting closer to full strength, with four more regulars joining the lineup Thursday when the team starts a two-game series against the Ducks at Honda Center.
Captain Jared Spurgeon and Ian Cole are back on the blue line, and Nick Bonino and Nico Sturm will fill out a new-look fourth line alongside Ryan Hartman.
Actually, all of the lines have been juggled after the Wild was blanked 4-0 by the Kings Tuesday in Los Angeles – the team's first game in two weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak stalled the season.
Jordan Greenway and Marcus Johansson will work with Marcus Foligno, Nick Bjugstad is centering Zach Parise and Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello has been moved up to skate with Joel Eriksson Ek and Kevin Fiala.
In his return Tuesday after undergoing offseason arm surgery, Zuccarello played on the Wild's fourth line.
"He's a guy that plays the game with a high skill set," coach Dean Evason said. "So, we've tried different line combinations. [That was] Zuccy's first game in a long time last game. We thought he played good. We're trying to score goals. We're not forgetting that we have to defend, and we're not forgetting that we have to be strong in the neutral zone either.
"But we have to find a way to score some goals, and he has that ability. He's going to get an opportunity."
Rookie Calen Addison will stick in the lineup after making his NHL debut last game. He'll stay next to Ryan Suter, with Spurgeon and Cole teaming up. Dakota Mermis and Matt Dumba are the other unit.
"The two guys obviously coming back are very key players," Evason said of Spurgeon and Cole. "Our captain, arguably one of the best defensemen in the league, and a guy in Cole that's won a Stanley Cup and is as rugged and gritty as you can possibly get in front of the net. So clearly two real nice presences for us on the ice."
Mats Zuccarello-Joel Eriksson Ek-Kevin Fiala
Zach Parise-Nick Bjugstad-Kirill Kaprizov
Jordan Greenway-Marcus Johansson-Marcus Foligno
Nico Sturm-Nick Bonino-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Calen Addison
Ian Cole-Jared Spurgeon
Dakota Mermis-Matt Dumba
3: Wins for the Wild over its last five matchups vs. Anaheim.
6: Victories for the Wild over the team's last eight visits to Honda Center.
5: Shots for rookie Kirill Kaprizov Tuesday vs. Los Angeles, a career high.
2: Points for center Joel Eriksson Ek in the two-game series against the Ducks earlier this season.
797: Career points for winger Zach Parise.
About the Ducks:
Anaheim currently sits fifth in the West Division with 15 points from a 6-7-3 start. The Ducks haven't played since Monday, suffering a 3-2 loss on the road in San Jose. Before that, Anaheim split two games with Vegas. Winger Max Comtois leads the team in goals with seven. Goalie John Gibson carries a .921 save percentage.