LAS VEGAS – Injuries have tested the Wild in recent weeks, and that’ll continue to be the case Tuesday when the team continues its three-game road trip in Vegas against the Golden Knights.
Winger Jason Zucker won’t play, sidelined with a lower-body injury that coach Bruce Boudreau was related to the slap shot from the Blackhawks’ Brent Seabrook that hit Zucker Sunday in Chicago.
Although he fell to the ice and hobbled off, Zucker eventually returned and finished the game.
With Zucker – who was raised in Nevada – unavailable, the Wild will usher call-ups Nico Sturm and Luke Johnson into the lineup. Both are centers who were recalled from the American Hockey League under emergency conditions on Monday.
The Wild is also without center Joel Eriksson Ek (upper-body injury) and captain Mikko Koivu, who has been sent home for more treatment on a lower-body injury.
“We don’t have Ek, and we don’t have Koivu,” Boudreau said. “We have [Ryan] Donato playing out of position and [Luke] Kunin playing out of position. I’d certainly like to get centers in there, and we really liked Johnson in training camp. The problem with him was he got early in the year in Iowa, and he’s only played seven games. But he’s rounding out into form, so we thought a right-handed center it might help us today or Thursday.”
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon (hand injury) won’t make his return to the lineup against the Golden Knights, but goalie Devan Dubnyk will be on the bench in the back-up position – the first time he’s suited up for the Wild since Nov.19. Since then, Dubnyk has been mostly away from the team while his wife Jenn deals with a medical situation.
Ryan Donato-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise-Victor Rask-Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway-Luke Johnson-Luke Kunin
Marcus Foligno-Nico Sturm-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Carson Soucy
Brad Hunt-Brennan Menell
3: Wins for the Wild in three all-time trips to Vegas.
2-0-1: Record for the Wild vs. the Golden Knights last season.
10-2-4: Showing for the Wild in its last 16 games.
99: Career games for Donato.
4: Goals for center Eric Staal during a three-game goal streak.
About the Golden Knights:
At 18-13-5, Vegas is one point shy of the top seed in the Pacific Division. The Golden Knights have won three of their last four games, most recently getting by the Canucks 6-3 on Sunday. Overall, Vegas is 9-6-3 at home this season. Winger Max Pacioretty is the reigning first star of the week in the NHL after scoring five times and racking up eight points in his last four games. He leads the team in goals (15), assists (19) and points (34).