The Wild isn't at full strength, and injuries aren't the only reason why.
Zach Parise was placed in the NHL's COVID protocols on Wednesday and did not play against Anaheim at Xcel Energy Center, a 3-2 win for the Wild.
A day earlier, goalie Andrew Hammond entered the protocols and the Wild called up Dereck Baribeau from Iowa in the American Hockey League to take Hammond's place on the taxi squad.
Parise became the fourth player who suited up for Monday's game between the Wild and Ducks to go on the COVID list.
On Tuesday, Anaheim canceled its practice and four players (Danton Heinen, Ben Hutton, Jacob Larsson and Anthony Stolarz) went into the protocols. Hutton and Larsson played Monday, while Stolarz dressed as the backup goalie; Heinen was scratched. All four Ducks players remained in the protocols on Wednesday.
A COVID-related absence could be the result of many factors, including a positive test, unconfirmed positive test or contact tracing.
Despite these additions to the COVID list, the game Wednesday went on as scheduled and coach Dean Evason said the Wild's routine remained the same — including getting tested twice on a game day.
Last month, the Wild had its season suspended and six games postponed after an outbreak put more than half the roster in the COVID protocols.
Although the number of players across the league out with a COVID-related absence had been declining, there's been a recent uptick. Boston had five players go on the list last week, and Montreal was shut down Tuesday after two players were added.
The pause to Parise's season comes just as the 36-year-old was showing signs of snapping out of a scoring funk.
The veteran winger was one of the few Wild players buzzing around the puck Monday in a 2-1 win over Anaheim, registering one shot after having none in his previous two games.
Overall, Parise has three goals and nine assists in 29 games.
"The pre-scout obviously showed a lot of clips from the previous game, and he was involved in a lot of them with tracking and good sticks and hunting pucks on the forecheck," said Evason, who found out Wednesday morning Parise would be unavailable. "He had a real good game the other night."
With Parise out, the Wild played forward Joseph Cramarossa after recalling him from the taxi squad under emergency conditions.
'A' for Eriksson Ek
Center Joel Eriksson Ek was the Wild's other alternate captain with Parise sidelined, and the team plans to rotate the designation.
"Ek's been arguably leading our hockey club in so many ways, so he got it first," Evason said. "But we'll sit down as a staff and figure out where it goes next."
On a roll
After not scoring for 26 games, a dry spell that started last season, captain Jared Spurgeon has three goals over his past five appearances following his two-goal outburst Wednesday.
"He had so many good looks prior to obviously scoring his first goal that we weren't worried about Jared Spurgeon scoring goals," Evason said. "He's creating offense. We knew points were going to come just by the way that he plays the game and how he plays the game. We weren't concerned on that end of it, but I'm sure he feels good about it."
Defenseman Matt Dumba could return Thursday against the Blues.
He has been out because of a lower-body injury after crashing feet first into the boards last Thursday in Colorado.
As for Marcus Foligno, Evason said the winger is "a little further out." Foligno was hit with a shot March 12 and has been out with a lower-body injury ever since.