SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild got some good news Saturday at a practice rink, more than 24 hours prior to their Sunday afternoon meeting with the San Jose Sharks in a battle of first-place teams.
After being out of the lineup for the past five days because of a mumps scare that made its way through the Wild locker room, wingers Zach Parise and Jason Pominville were on the ice, and are expected to be in the lineup versus San Jose.
"I thought it was pretty energetic out there. They looked fine," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said of the pair that missed three games last week. "I mean they haven't played for a while, but ... I thought the whole practice had a lot of energy in it. They looked OK but I just asked them, they'll tell me how they feel (Sunday) and then we'll go from there."
The Wild, firmly in control of the Central Division, are coming off a 1-0 loss in Columbus on Thursday in which an apparent Minnesota goal was waved off, and Boudreau fumed about the officials after the game. He was in a better mood Saturday, but admitted losing some sleep trying to put together the team's lines now that they're close to full health and have a surplus of players.
"I was up all night and I was rushed all morning because I still couldn't figure anything out," Boudreau said.
The Wild added forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White to the mix in a trade with Arizona last week.
"You try to find the perfect fit and the perfect fit might never be there, but there's reasons why we do everything to find something right now and hopefully by the 10-game mark we could solidify our lines going into the playoffs. That's our goal," Boudreau said.
The more immediate goal is slowing down a San Jose team that has won four of its last five and is playing like a group fully intent on returning to the Stanley Cup Final again this spring with a five-point lead in the Pacific. Like Minnesota, the Sharks are suddenly close to full health, which is a huge advantage with just six weeks left in the regular season.
"We're deep. That's all you ask for going into the end of the year and a playoff run," Sharks center Logan Couture said after a 3-1 win over Vancouver on Thursday. "You need a lot of guys to step up because you never know what's going to happen going forward. Injuries happen in this game, unfortunately, and there are times in different games where you need different ingredients and with the guys we have here, we're looking good."
If there's one question about the Sharks' depth it's regarding the status of defenseman David Schlemko, who suffered a lower-body injury early in the Vancouver game and has not practiced since.
Schlemko accompanied the team to Minnesota, where they'll begin a brief two-game road swing, but his status for Sunday is up in the air.