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Wild return from COVID shutdown, expect to play Tuesday

A step in the right direction for the Wild.

About a half-month will have passed since the Minnesota Wild last played a game when they step back on the ice in their return from a COVID-19 outbreak next week. 

Minnesota last played Feb. 2 in Colorado. Their games Feb. 4 (Colorado), Feb. 6 (Arizona), Feb. 7 (Arizona), Feb. 9 (St. Louis), Feb. 11 (St. Louis) and Feb. 13 (Los Angeles) have all postponed as a result of the outbreak.

With the number of Wild players testing positive for COVID-19 in the double-digits, the Wild hasn't been able to do anything for well over a week. But that all changed Friday when the team gathered for practice for the first time in 10 days, and they've been cleared to play again Tuesday, Feb. 16 against the Kings in Los Angeles. 

That's six games brushed off the map, though the NHL will eventually reschedule the games so Minnesota plays as many games as possible during what has become a challenging season for numerous teams around the league. 

General Manager Bill Guerin said the coronavirus was basically "creeping" through the locker room, with every player that tested positive forced to sit out at least 10 days. That makes roster construction for Minnesota's return to action complicated, as it is unclear which of the players to have tested positive will be cleared to play. 

According to The Athletic's Michael Russo, there are still 12 players on the COVID list. 

"I'm expecting to play Tuesday in L.A.," said Guerin. "For the reshuffling, we'll just take what they give us. And, we know it's extremely difficult. I just think right now, it's one of those things that we just really have to take it in stride. It probably won't be perfect, but it won't be that bad either."

Who is available for Tuesday's game in Los Angeles will remain a mystery due to COVID-19, but the Wild did get some good news Friday as defenseman Matt Dumba said his lower-body injury isn't serious. 

"It was honestly kind of good to have a little time off, off the ankle, and let everything heal up, so I feel like I'm ready now," said Dumba. 

More good news was that forward Mats Zuccarello, who hasn't played this season due to offseason surgery, practiced Friday and could be back on the ice for game action soon. 

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