MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been a stomach-churning couple weeks for the Minnesota Wild and their fans.

The team were decided underdogs against the Colorado Avalanche, and much more so against the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Ryan Suter was missing from the team’s Tuesday-morning skate around. But no worries, according to Coach Mike Yeo, who got big laughs from the press.

“He had to go the dentist this morning,” Yeo said. “He had a scheduled cleaning.”

Keith Ballard is back from injury and ready, if needed.

“[I] feel good. I don’t think there would be any chance I’d be playing if I didn’t, so I feel fine,” Ballard said.

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The Wild have learned that they can take a punch. There is a certain swagger about a champion, but Zach Parise says that doesn’t make the Blackhawks unbeatable.

“By no means do we feel like we’ve been blown out, that we don’t belong. We’ve played pretty well throughout, and that was the same as the last series,” Parise said. “So hopefully, like I said, tonight we can feel good about our game.”

The parallels between this series and the previous one are almost too obvious: the Wild lose Game Five and now have to come home for Game Six, and also win a Game Seven on the road.

The Colorado series created some confidence, and the Wild understand that Tuesday night is kind of like a Game Seven.

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“Every series, every game is different, but we should get some confidence from previous experiences,” said center Mikko Koivu. “It’s a must-win for us.”

Mike Max