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Wild forward Kyle Brodziak

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Struggling Brodziak scratched for first time with Wild

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • April 22, 2014 - 12:16 AM

Center Kyle Brodziak, whose costly turnover not only turned Game 1 upside down but maybe the series, was scratched for the first time in his Wild career Monday night.

Brodziak, who coughed up the puck with the Wild ahead two goals in the third period of Thursday’s overtime loss to Colorado, was benched in Game 3 after being demoted to the fourth line in Game  2.

“I think it’s pretty obvious [why],” Brodziak said. “I haven’t been playing the best of my capability.”

Brodziak said the scratch hurt doubly because of the importance of Game 3.

“Obviously you want to be in and helping the team, especially in a big game like that,” said the veteran, who has been the subject of fan scorn all season long. “I just have to try to re-establish my game and find it for the chance I get back in there.”

Brodziak went from hero to goat in Game 1. His goal late in the second period put the Wild up 4-2. But his third-period turnover with the Wild in the driver’s seat led to Jamie McGinn’s goal, and the rest of the third period was pandemonium until Paul Stastny forced overtime with 13.4 seconds left in regulation.

Brodziak was on the ice for the Avalanche’s last three goals, including Stastny’s overtime winner.

“To be honest, I felt like I regrouped fairly well after that for the rest of the game,” Brodziak said. “I know we were on for the [tying goal and losing goal], but they were kind of tough plays in front [of the net] that’s part of the game. And stuff like that happens.

“But I felt emotionally like I was OK after that. Sometimes in the past maybe I could have just completely became unraveled. But I thought I held it together all right. But then last game wasn’t my best game and emotions probably got the best of me.”

With Brodziak out, rookie Erik Haula centered the third line and right winger Cody McCormick moved to center the fourth line.

Veilleux sits, too

Besides sitting Brodziak, Stephane Veilleux also was scratched and Justin Fontaine and Dany Heatley drew into the lineup. For Fontaine, it was his NHL playoff debut.

Fontaine, who didn’t play the first two games, played on the Wild’s assembled shutdown line with veteran Matt Cooke and Haula. Fontaine was on the Cooke-Brodziak line when it held Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby to no shots late this season.

“It’s an exciting time for me. I wanted to get in, obviously,” Fontaine said.

If Fontaine doesn’t play three games this postseason, he can become an unrestricted free agent July 1 as opposed to a restricted free agent.

“I’ve definitely enjoyed this year even up to this point [of being scratched],” Fontaine said. “We still have more to come, and that’s all I focus on. I’m not thinking about [free agency].”

Heatley, whose 57 points in 66 playoff games are the most of any Wild player, played on the fourth line with McCormick and Nino Niederreiter.

“This is a guy that’s been just an unbelievable pro,” Yeo said of Heatley; the Wild went 5-1-1 down the stretch with Heatley scratched. “He’s used this time, he’s worked, he’s had a great attitude for his teammates.”

Heatley said Monday morning: “You always want to be in there. It’s a big game, so I’m excited to get going.”

Top lines shuffled

With the Matt Moulson-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line scoreless in Colorado, Yeo reunited Zach Parise with Granlund and Pominville and skated Moulson with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle.

Turns out, the move worked well. Granlund scored the game’s only goal in overtime, with assists from Pominville and Parise.

Yeo said the previous second line had a “score-every-touch mentality. They’re getting the puck, and just like ‘I’m going to turn this one particular play into a goal,’ which quite often means you’re not moving your feet, you’re forcing plays, you’re making some high-risk plays or hope plays, which leads to more backcheck.”

Moulson said: “You can’t be ever happy with getting chances. You have to find a way to put the puck in.”

Etc.

• Avalanche star center Matt Duchene (sprained knee) began skating Monday in St. Paul. Center John Mitchell (concussion) began exercising.

• Wild defenseman Jon Blum was scratched for the third consecutive game.

© 2014 Star Tribune