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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, March 20th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (36-23-10) at New Jersey Devils (29-27-13), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild are hoping to get a second straight successful homecoming out of one of their skaters.
Zach Parise makes his return to the Garden State on Thursday night as the former New Jersey captain leads his playoff-hopeful Wild against the skidding Devils.
With no Eastern and Western teams facing each other last season due to the lockout-shortened schedule, Parise finally makes his return trip to the Prudential Center for the first time since signing a 13-year $98 million with the Wild on July 4, 2012, the same day Minnesota inked defenseman Ryan Suter to an identical deal.
The 29-year-old Parise, born in Minneapolis, was taken 17th overall by the Devils in the 2003 draft and scored 194 goals in 502 games with the club. His Devils were a constant presence in the postseason and Parise helped get the club to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012 before his exit to the Wild.
Minnesota made the playoffs in Parise's first season with the club and currently hold a seven-point edge for one of the two wild card spots in the conference this season.
The Devils, meanwhile, were unable to return to the postseason in their first season without Parise and are currently five points back of a wild card berth.
Parise managed an assist in a 4-0 home victory over the Devils on Nov. 3, the Wild's third straight victory in this series.
Minnesota snapped a five-game series winless streak in its last trip to New Jersey, a 2-1 win on Jan. 4, 2011.
Parise probably wouldn't mind duplicating Matt Moulson's return to a former home arena. The forward visited Nassau Coliseum for the first time on Tuesday and scored twice with an assist in a 6-0 win over the New York Islanders.
Moulson was dealt by the Islanders to the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 27 and was later shipped to the Wild before the trade deadline. Moulson scored 118 goals over the course of four-plus seasons with the Islanders.
"I was (in New York) for a long time and this team had a big place in my heart," Moulson said of returning to face his former squad. "The fans are great supporters. It was pretty emotional."
In his second game with Minnesota since being acquired from Edmonton, Ilya Bryzgalov made 36 saves for his second shutout of the season and 32nd of his career.
Justin Fontaine had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who snapped a two-game skid and won for just the second time in the past seven games (2-2-3), while captain Mikko Koivu had three assists to surpass Marian Gaborik for the most points in franchise history. Koivu upped his total to 438 points.
The Devils come into this meeting having lost three in a row. That puts them in danger of posting their longest losing streak since opening the season 0-4-3.
Patrik Elias had a power-play goal and Travis Zajac also lit the lamp on Tuesday in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. Martin Brodeur ended with 27 saves.
"Our effort is just not at the right spot for the urgency we need to make that push to the playoffs," Brodeur said.
The Devils dropped the opener of a five-game homestand.
03/20 10:50:37 ET
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