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Wild's top line looking for sustained success

Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen protects the puck from Minnesota Wild forward Tyler Ennis during the third period Friday, Dec. 29, at Xcel Energy Center. Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL—Wild coach Bruce Boudreau preaches it constantly: "Anybody can do anything once."

It's hard to imagine the coach wasn't thinking the same thing about his top line in the hours leading up to Friday's game against the Nashville Predators at the Xcel Energy Center.

After all, the concoction of Eric Staal centering Tyler Ennis and Charlie Coyle worked wonders last time out in Wednesday's 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars.

"They were very good," Boudreau said after the game. "They were making plays. They could've had a couple more goals, I thought. That's what we need from that line."

While all three players were on top of their game — Staal had a goal, Ennis had an assist, and Coyle had a pair of assists — they knew it meant nothing if they didn't fire a bullet the next time out.

"We were effective right from the beginning of the game," Staal said. "Now we've got to follow it up. You've got to feel good about it. ... We have a great opportunity this weekend. Hopefully we're going well and we'll keep it rolling."

"We had some chemistry," Coyle added. "We felt good from the first shift on. ... We had a bunch of chances, at least one every shift. It's just one game. We want to keep this things rolling."

Boudreau unsurprisingly kept the Ennis-Staal-Coyle line together for the start of Friday's game, and they picked up right where they left off.

"We were buzzing," Staal said. "We had a lot of looks early. It would've been nice to get a couple there the first couple shifts."

"We need to be difference makers," Staal added. "If we're not scoring, at least creating momentum and chances for us. We have to follow it up again tomorrow. That's the biggest thing."

Injury updates

Nino Niederreiter skated by himself before Friday's morning skate and is expected to skate through the weekend. He has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, though it sounds like he might be able to return next week.

That, coupled with the fact that Zach Parise is getting closer after playing his first game in 250 days, and the Wild are getting close to full strength for the first time this season.

Sometimes it's necessary for a team to go through those things to become a good team," Boudreau said. "We look in August and say, 'You know what? Things are looking pretty good.' ... You might not get that team until January. Hopefully in January when we get that team, we'll look pretty good."

Riding the pine

Gustav Olofsson was a healthy scratch for the eighth consecutive game. He hasn't played since logging 11 minutes, 11 seconds Dec. 12 against Calgary. It will be interesting to see if Olofsson gets back into the lineup during Saturday's rematch against the Predators.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

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