Zach Parise to IR, Josh Harding set to return for Wild

Wild left wing Zach Parise shoots the puck at Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller in the third period of an NHL game Dec. 11.

Alex Gallardo/AP

Facing a critical stretch of four straight home games, the Minnesota Wild will be without one of their top offensive players for at least one game, but could get back their top performer in goal.

Minnesota placed Zach Parise, the team’s third-leading scorer with 27 points, on injured reserve Saturday. The Wild also reassigned goaltender Johan Gustafsson to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, likely signaling goaltender Josh Harding is ready to make his return after missing the past four games as he dealt with a change in medication for multiple sclerosis.

Minnesota lost all four games of a road trip and hosts the New York Islanders on Sunday.

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Gustafsson, 21, was recalled on Dec. 18 when Harding went on injured reserve, but didn’t see any action for the Wild. Niklas Backstrom started the past four games in goal for the Wild.

Parise has missed the past two games with a foot injury. He was originally hurt on Nov. 25 and was expected to miss a few weeks, but returned after missing only one game. But he was sidelined again last week after playing on Dec. 22 at New York.

Already missing two games, Parise would be eligible to return on Monday, if ready. He is second on the team with 15 goals and tied for third with 12 assists. His 144 shots on goal rank fifth in the NHL.

Harding is fifth in the NHL with 18 wins. He leads the league with a 1.51 goals-against average, is second with a .939 save percentage and is tied for second with three shutouts.

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