The Wild Beat
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Mats Zuccarello will return to the Wild's lineup on Thursday against the Devils at Xcel Energy Center, and backup goalie Kaapo Kahkonen will remain in net.

Zuccarello missed the previous two games after taking a slash to the hand last Friday vs. Winnipeg.

"It was a fluky incident," Zuccarello said. "Nothing you can do about it. You just have to take the time it takes to heal and go from there."

This will be Kahkonen's second straight start, the second time this season he's handled consecutive games.

On Tuesday, Kahkonen was between the pipes for the 5-2 victory over the Coyotes that extended the Wild's win streak to four games, which is tied for its longest run of the season.

"He played well," coach Dean Evason said, "and that's what we try to do for the most part. If people play well, then they get another opportunity. So, he gets another one here tonight."

The Wild is still without captain Jared Spurgeon (lower-body injury) and forward Frederick Gaudreau (COVID protocols).

Last Wednesday, the Wild was in New Jersey and got past the Devils 3-2 in a shootout after arriving late to the arena due to traffic.

"We started real well after obviously some adversity getting to the rink and having the game backed up," Evason said. "We actually started great and they just kept coming. They took the game over. We were fortunate in that hockey game through the second and third period to stay in it. They are young, energetic, speed, play hard hockey club that is going to be a great test for us."

Projected lineup:

Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Marcus Foligno

Kirill Kaprizov-Ryan Hartman-Mats Zuccarello

Rem Pitlick-Victor Rask-Kevin Fiala

Brandon Duhaime-Nico Sturm-Nick Bjugstad

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Jon Merrill-Alex Goligoski

Jordie Benn-Dmitry Kulikov

Kaapo Kahkonen

Key numbers:

2: Goals by Marcus Foligno over the last two games.

5: Points for Ryan Hartman on a three-game point streak.

7: Points by Kirill Kaprizov during a three-game point streak.

23: Goals by the Wild over its past four home games.

29: Saves by Kahkonen last game, a season high.

About the Devils:

New Jersey has dropped two of its last three games since playing the Wild. Center Jack Hughes returned last game after missing 17 with a dislocated shoulder. In three games this season, Hughes has two goals and an assist. Winger Andreas Johnsson leads the Devils in goals (9). His 18 points are tied for the most on the team with winger Jesper Bratt.