With Jordan Schroeder scratched for a third time in five games, Sean Bergenheim knew his hold on a spot in the lineup could be slipping.
Bergenheim, acquired from Florida on Feb. 24, entered Tuesday's game against the New Jersey Devils with no points in six games and was demoted to the fourth line with Erik Haula and Kyle Brodziak.
There's no fifth line, so Bergenheim said Tuesday morning, "I know, myself, how I can play, and I haven't been playing that way. I think I'm maybe trying too much. I've been making plays that I never really make, so I need to go find my game."
From his first shift against the Devils, it was clear Bergenheim was motivated to stay in the lineup. He was all over the puck, was rewarded with his first goal with the Wild and had a game-high five shots.
"I didn't look at it as a response to anything," he said after the 6-2 victory. "I want to play better every day. This was a better day. There is still stuff that can be improved and I'll keep on working on those things."
The response though did come after a positive on-ice chat Tuesday morning with Mike Yeo. The Wild coach told Bergenheim he wanted more on the forecheck and stronger wall play. In Sunday's loss to Colorado, Bergenheim twice didn't get a puck out before the Avs' first goal.
"You can look at it as a punishment if you want, but it wasn't," Yeo said of playing him on the fourth line.
"We felt that we were surrounding him with a couple players that would help him play the type of game that he needs to play and he responded really well."
Bergenheim was scratched by the Panthers for two weeks before being dealt to Minnesota, so he felt he was still shaking off the rust.
"I just have to find my groove," Bergenheim said. "I'm happy to be here. There's another level for me to help this team. I'm aware of it, I'm working on it."
Zucker healing fast
Jason Zucker was supposed to miss the rest of the regular season following surgery to repair a broken collarbone, but it sounds like his timetable has been accelerated.
The speedy left wing, whom Yeo still says may be a month from returning, has a doctor's appointment Wednesday to make sure the bone is healing properly.
Zucker was on the ice again Tuesday shooting pucks.
Yeo said Ryan Carter (shoulder) is likely a few weeks away from returning and Matt Cooke (sports hernia surgery) soon after that.
Defenseman Marco Scandella (oblique) missed his fifth consecutive game and is at least out through the weekend.
Dubnyk on record roll
Tuesday, goalie Devan Dubnyk made his 200th NHL start, career-high and franchise-record 25th in a row for the Wild and 26th in a row overall dating to Arizona.
No NHL goalie has started more than 25 consecutive games since Jonas Hiller with Anaheim in 2011-12 (32), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"He's looked sharp, he's looked fresh," Yeo said. "He's a competitor, he wants the net, he's playing with a lot of confidence and that confidence has filtered through to the rest of the group."
A hairy situation
Blonde-haired defenseman Christian Folin, arrived at practice Monday with a dark black, prickly mustache to compete with roommate Matt Dumba's black goatee.
"I wanted to give the guys a good laugh, and I think it succeeded," Folin said. "They're kind of scared though. They don't want me around their kids."
Folin says his girlfriend is not a fan of the 'stache.
Joked Dumba, "I'll give him props. That takes commitment to do that, courage. He has a lot going on there. It's not the goat, but he put in great effort, so I respect that."
Folin was scratched a second consecutive game Tuesday.