The Wild Beat
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For a third straight game, the Wild will have a key player return to the lineup.

Goalie Cam Talbot is scheduled to start Monday night at Xcel Energy Center against the Canadiens after missing the previous six games with a lower-body injury suffered Jan.1 at the Winter Classic.

"Extremely excited," Talbot said. "It was longer than I'd hoped for but with these things, you don't want to come back too early. They can linger. Training staff and coaching staff, we all talked and thought it'd be best to wait a few more days and I'm feeling excited and ready to go."

Last Friday, center Joel Eriksson Ek returned from an upper-body injury and then the next day, captain Jared Spurgeon was back in action after reaggravating a lower-body injury. He had two assists in the 4-3 overtime win over the Blackhawks.

"He did not miss a beat obviously," coach Dean Evason said. "Every player today, they don't get out of shape. But certainly he did not. I'm sure he worked as hard as he did leading into the season as he did recovering. Mentally, I think that allows him to be ready.

"He's just such a sound, not only hockey player, just a real sound person. We are lucky he is the captain of our team."

The Wild still has two players out; winger Nick Bjugstad and defenseman Jonas Brodin are dealing with upper-body injuries. But the team continues to rack up points despite not being at full strength, winning five of its last six games while Talbot was out and Kaapo Kahkonen started in his place.

"There's just no reason to rush back," Talbot said. "The guys are playing well in front of him, and he was holding down the fort back there. So, it's fun to watch that's for sure. But I'm excited to be back."

Projected lineup:

Kirill Kaprizov-Ryan Hartman-Mats Zuccarello

Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Marcus Foligno

Kevin Fiala-Frederick Gaudreau-Matt Boldy

Connor Dewar-Nico Sturm-Brandon Duhaime

Alex Goligoski-Jared Spurgeon

Jordie Benn-Matt Dumba

Jon Merrill-Dmitry Kulikov

Cam Talbot

Key numbers:

2: Goals for winger Marcus Foligno in his past two games.

6: Goals for winger Kevin Fiala during a season-long eight-game point streak.

9: Wins for the Wild over its last 10 games at Xcel Energy Center.

11: Assists by winger Mats Zuccarello during his career-best eight-game point streak.

98: Career points for winger Kirill Kaprizov.

About the Canadiens:

Montreal is last in the NHL at 8-25-7, but the Canadiens have picked up at least a point in three straight games. After winning at Dallas last Tuesday, they fell in overtime to Vegas and Colorado. Overall, Montreal is 3-15-6 on the road this season. Center Nick Suzuki leads the team in scoring with 24 points. Former Wild forward Rem Pitlick, whom the Canadiens claimed off waivers earlier this month, has a goal and assist in five games with Montreal.