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Kuemper to start as Wild make several lineup changes

Monday, 04.21.2014 / 1:22 PM

By Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent / Avalanche-Wild series blog

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Kuemper to start as Wild make several lineup changes

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild will make several lineup changes for Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday at Xcel Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, TSN, RDS, ALT, FS-N).

Colorado leads the best-of-7 series 2-0.

Rookie Darcy Kuemper will make his first start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Kuemper relieved starter Ilya Bryzgalov in the second period of a 4-2 loss in Game 2 on Saturday and stopped all 14 shots he faced. He also appeared in two Stanley Cup Playoff games last year in relief of Josh Harding.

"It's not just the saves he's making, but the way he's making saves," coach Mike Yeo said. "He looked really confident in practice."

Saturday marked Kuemper's first appearance since March 27, as he returned from an upper-body injury. Kuemper went 12-8-4 in 26 games with a 2.43 goals-against average and .915 save percentage, although he won just one of his final eight starts (1-5-2).

The Wild will make center Kyle Brodziak a healthy scratch for the first time since he joined the team in 2009. Fourth-line wing Stephane Veilleux will also sit Monday after playing both games in Denver.

Forwards Dany Heatley and Justin Fontaine will rejoin the lineup.

Heatley, with 57 points in 66 career playoff games, has more points in the postseason than any other Wild player. Fontaine, a rookie, scored 13 goals and 21 points this season and was a plus-6.

Fontaine is expected to play right wing on Minnesota's third line, which could be asked to shadow Colorado's top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog.

Heatley will likely play left wing on the fourth line, with Cody McCormick sliding from right wing to center and Nino Niederreiter moving from the third line to the fourth.

"When you're down 2-0 in the series, quite often you're going to make some changes," Yeo said. "That's where we are at."

Brodziak was scratched in the regular season finale with a minor lower-body injury, but played all 81 games prior and in each game the previous two seasons. He had a goal in Game 1, but also the primary turnover which led to Colorado's first goal in the third period, one that turned the momentum of a game Minnesota led 4-2 at the time. The Avalanche eventually tied the game with 13 seconds remaining before winning in overtime. He is a minus-3 in the series.

"I think it's pretty obvious. I haven't been playing the best of my capability," Brodziak said. "It's a pretty big game tonight, so that's about it."

The Wild are also expected to stay with changes they made in the third period of Game 2, moving Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville next to Zach Parise and sliding Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle with Matt Moulson.

Colorado coach Patrick Roy said the Avalanche will make no changes to their lineup.

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Nathan MacKinnon

PA Parenteau - Ryan O'Reilly - Jamie McGinn

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Max Talbot

Patrick Bordeleau - Brad Malone - Paul Carey

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Andre Benoit - Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Reto Berra, Stefan Elliott, Ryan Wilson

Injured: Matt Duchene (knee), John Mitchell (concussion), Cory Sarich (back), Alex Tanguay (hip)

WILD

Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Matt Moulson - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Matt Cooke - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine

Dany Heatley - Cody McCormick - Nino Niederreiter

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Clayton Stoner - Nate Prosser

Darcy Kuemper

Ilya Bryzgalov

Scratched: Kyle Brodziak, Stephane Veilleux, Mike Rupp, Jonathon Blum

Injured: Jason Zucker (quad), Keith Ballard (groin), Josh Harding (illness), Niklas Backstrom (abdominal)

Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres