(SportsNetwork.com) – The Minnesota Wild were hoping to have a pair of key
pieces back in the lineup on Thursday night when they try to snap their losing
streak in a matchup with the Buffalo Sabres.
They may have to settle for just one.
The Wild have been outscored 14-3 over a four-game slide and have played the
last three contests without leading scorer Zach Parise because of a
concussion. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon has sat out the past five contests as
well due to an upper-body injury.
While both have been skating and traveling with the club, Parise is doubtful
to return for this game while Spurgeon has a chance to play.
“You can certainly see by the way he’s shooting the puck. He’s looking like
he’s back to normal here,” Wild head coach Mike Yeo said Wednesday on
Minnesota’s website of his defenseman. “We’ll have a conversation afterwards,
and see what he has to say to the trainers. Again, he’s a guy we’d very much
like to get in.”
Parise has 10 points off four goals and six assists, while Spurgeon has
notched six points in nine games from the blue line.
Minnesota saw its slide extended with Tuesday’s 3-1 road setback to the New
Jersey Devils. Ryan Carter scored shorthanded and Darcy Kuemper made 20 saves.
“We have to dig deep here. It’s as simple as that,” Wild head coach Mike Yeo
said. “We’re the only ones that are going to get ourselves out of this.”
The Sabres also are skidding, with losses in four straight. They are just
3-12-2 on the season overall, having been held to a pair of goals or fewer in
all but one of their 17 games.
That trend continued on Tuesday with a 6-1 setback to the St. Louis Blues.
Tyler Ennis netted his team-leading fifth goal of the season and Michal
Neuvirth yielded all six goals on 29 shots.
Buffalo held a 15-10 shot advantage after the first period and only trailed
1-0 before St. Louis broke the game open.
“We have to see what is working and what gave us success in that first period
and put a full game together,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said.
The struggling Sabres will insert forward Patrick Kaleta into the lineup
tonight. Kaleta has not played in an NHL game since Oct. 10, 2013, having
suffered a knee injury last season in the American Hockey League and then
sustaining a facial injury during the preseason on Sept. 28.
Kaleta was hit in the face by a slap shot and had to undergo surgery that
included doctors inserting three plates and 14 screws into the right side of
“I’ve been waiting to play my first real game for like 13 months now,” Kaleta
told Buffalo’s website. “So whatever the team needs me to do to be a positive
around here, I’ll do it when I’m called upon. I’ll do my best to contribute in
a positive way.”
Buffalo will be without defenseman Joss Gorges tonight due to a lower-body
injury suffered on Tuesday.
The Wild won both of their meetings with the Sabres last season, but are just
2-3-2 against them all-time at home.
Kuemper has never faced the Sabres, while Jhonas Enroth will start in net for
the Sabres. He has split two career starts against the Wild, giving up four
goals on 46 shots faced.