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Pominville closer to returning to Wild; Blackhawks' Keith back

Associated Press

5/7/2013 3:50:42 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild right wing Jason Pominville moved closer to returning to the lineup by taking part in the team's morning skate on Tuesday before Game 4 of the Western Conference playoff series against Chicago.

Pominville also practiced with the team on Monday. He hasn't played since taking an elbow to the chin in a game against Los Angeles two weeks ago from Kings captain Dustin Brown. Pominville, acquired by the Wild right before the deadline last month in a trade with Buffalo, declined to be specific about his injury.

"Obviously not being on the ice the best time of the year has not been easy. It's been a tough rehab. A few things have gone different ways, but I think I'll prefer to comment on those once the season is over," said Pominville, who was fetched along with a 2014 fourth-round draft pick from the Sabres in exchange for prospects Matt Hackett and Johan Larsson, and selections in the first and second round in this year's draft.

Pominville acknowledged being upset by the hit from Brown, who drew a two-game suspension from the NHL.

"I know he's a guy that plays hard and hits hard, but I just don't think the elbows are needed when you try to hit a guy," Pominville said.

Coach Mike Yeo called Pominville's presence "another good step" but declined to declare him in or out of the lineup.

"I'm just doing my best, trying to get the proper treatment done, doing my best to get back to where I need to be," Pominville said.

Yeo said goalie Josh Harding would start again but said he wouldn't announce the backup, Darcy Kuemper or Niklas Backstrom, until game time. Backstrom suffered a lower-body injury in warm-ups before Game 1.

Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith was absent from the morning skate because his wife had a baby boy. Coach Joel Quenneville said the first-time father Keith was expected back in time for the game, however.

"That's good news all the way around," Quenneville said.

Allowing Keith to be present for the birth was an easy decision, the coach said. Family comes first.

"I'm very happy he was there in time and it all worked out," Quenneville said.