Brodziak and Johnson are bright spots in loss

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2012 - 12:51 AM

The Wild's Steven Kampfer, left, and Kyle Brodziak celebrated in the first period Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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After the way Saturday's Wild game with Carolina ended, nobody was interested in anything like a silver lining.

But here are two: Kyle Brodziak and Nick Johnson.

Brodziak, a veteran center, scored a goal and had two assists as the Wild bounced back from an early 1-0 deficit to take a 3-1 lead. Johnson, a rookie right winger, scored a goal and was the only Wild player with a plus rating in the 5-3 loss.

"It doesn't matter," Brodziak said.

Perhaps. But it is a sign that Brodziak is heating up. This was his fourth career three-point game and his first this season. The goal gave him a career-high 18 -- second most on the Wild roster -- and his 37 points ties a career high, set last season.

Johnson, meanwhile, ended a 22-game streak without a goal. He scored for the first time since Jan. 19 at Toronto.

Brodziak has two goals and five points in his past four games. He was one of the most active Wild forwards in the early going, as the team built that 3-1 lead. He took a pass from Steven Kampfer and scored on the backhand to tie the score 1-1. Brodziak's shot on net led to a rebound that Johnson eventually turned into a goal in the second period. Less than 3 minutes after that, on the power play, Brodziak sent a pass into the crease that Erik Christensen one-timed into the net.

Koivu nears return

Wild coach Mike Yeo said it was a close call, but the team decided to delay center Mikko Koivu's return for at least one more game.

Koivu missed his 14th game since aggravating a shoulder injury Feb. 16. Cleared for contact, Koivu practiced hard both Thursday and Friday and, according to Yeo, looked good.

"He's getting very close," Yeo said. "But again, after talking with the doctors, we all felt it was best to hold him off for a couple more days. He's disappointed. He wanted to be in. He wants to be out there playing. But, according to the doctors, and where we are right now, he's not quite ready.''

Monday's game with Vancouver remains a possibility.

"He has responded well, been good in practice," Yeo said. "I think, as we keep going on here, the more battle drills we can get him into, the more confidence he'll have getting out there."

Etc.

• Forward Matt Kassian and defenseman Kurtis Foster were healthy scratches Saturday.

• Christensen went his first 15 games with the Wild without a goal. Now he has scored three in his past three games.

• Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom (lower body injury) also is close to returning to action. There is a chance Backstrom could be available for the Wild's game Monday against Vancouver.

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