Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 3/29/12
ST. PAUL, Minn. The Minnesota Wild's playoff hopes are dead, but the injuries that ruined the team's season are starting to heal. A week after captain Mikko Koivu returned from an extended absence, No. 1 goalie Niklas Backstom, who suffered a lower-body injury March 1 against Montreal, will make his first start since the injury Thursday night against the Florida Panthers. Both Josh Harding and Matt Hackett have done an excellent job in Backstom's absence, but coach Mike Yeo is happy to have Backstrom, who is 17-17-6 this season, back in the net. "Like a lot of guys he has spent a lot of time out of the lineup," Yeo said of the 34-year-old goaltender. "It is tough to put into words how important he is to our team." Defeseman Justin Falk, who has missed nine games with a lower-body injury, will also return Thursday night. Falk's return will make Kurtis Foster, whom the team acquired from the New Jersey Devils just before the trade deadline, a healthy scratch for the sixth time in the past 10 games.
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