ST. PAUL, Minn. — Kirill Kaprizov is expected to retutn to the lineup for the Minnesota Wild against the Anaheim Ducks at Xcel Energy Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET; BSN, BSWI+, BSSC, BSSD, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).
The foward sustained an upper-body injury from a hit by Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic in the second period of a 3-2 win on Jan. 6. Though he hasn’t played since then, Kaprizov missed one game because the Wild had two games postponed because of COVID-19 issues.
“At first the hit wasn’t very pleasant,” Kaprizov said Friday. “I got a little bit nervous the first couple of days, but after that it got a lot better very quick, so I understood that it’s all gonna be OK, that I’m going to be fine.”
Kaprizov practiced for the first time on Wednesday.
“He looked good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said then. “Maybe a little winded but shifts were a little bit [long] … but generally he looked real good. Unless something unforeseen happens (he will play Friday).”
Kaprizov missed a 3-2 shootout win against the Washington Capitals two days later. He said he regretted not being able to play against Alex Ovechkin and other fellow Russian forwards.
“I wasn’t in tiptop health shape so I wasn’t able to play,” Kaprizov said. “You always want to go out there and play against Alex and one of the greats, but I also know (Dmitry) Orlov from our time and (Evgeny) Kuznetsov, we played together growing up and world juniors and other leagues, it was definitely tough to miss.”
Kaprizov, who leads Minnesota with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 32 games, was named to the NHL All-Star Game for the first time.
“Just because of the way he plays,” Evason said of the quick return. “He’s obviously built firmly. He’s in great shape. These guys, they all are athletes today. The players are in such terrific shape they can recover quickly from those types of things.
“I’m sure Kirill will feel fatigued today but then gets another skate tomorrow. We’ll see where everybody comes out of it, but lots of good work here the last couple days.”
Minnesota forwards Jordan Greenway and Brandon Duhaime also are likely to play after missing two games while in NHL COVID-19 protocol.
Forward Joel Eriksson Ek was placed in COVID-19 protocol Thursday and will not play. Goalie Cam Talbot (lower body) and defensemen Alex Goligoski (protocol), Jonas Brodin (upper body) and Jared Spurgeon (lower body) remain sidelined.
“We haven’t played a lot of games when these guys have been out, but having said that, we’ve really been able to have a nice look at different people too,” Evason said. “We’ve been able to call up (from the American Hockey League) and not only call up but have people in different positions.
“We’ve had a lot of different people in special teams and power play, that it’s been nice for us to see some different looks as well.”
The Wild (21-10-2) have won two in a row after losing the previous five.