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Cooke to add veteran know-how in return to Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke will rejoin the lineup for Game 4 on Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS) when the Wild will try to even the Western Conference Second Round series.

Cooke was suspended for seven games for kneeing Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of the first round.

"I've been ready to go since I haven't been able to play," Cooke said. "The time is finally here and it'll be fun to go out and battle with my teammates."

Cooke will skate with two rookies, Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine, on the Wild's third line, a group that could be counted on to play a shutdown role. But it's a group that has proven it can chip in offensively. During the regular season, Cooke scored 28 points, and Fontaine's 13 goals were fourth-most on the club. In the postseason, Haula has five points, including the game-winning goal in Game 3 against the Blackhawks.

"It definitely gives us a little bit more of a lot of the things they're asking for; they're asking for more of a defensive responsibility plus some offense on every line and I think we have that right now," Yeo said. "Obviously, we have the last change here, but I'm comfortable with every line going out and playing against any one of their lines."

Haula and Fontaine have a combined 16 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience, which makes Cooke a nice fit on their line. He will play in his 101st playoff game Friday and has been a vocal leader throughout the season, even during his suspension.

"He's a big part of our team, he's been around the game a lot," Fontaine said. "He's been on a few playoff runs and he brings that experience. He's a good coach for us younger guys on how to approach this."

Yeo did not provide an update on forward Matt Moulson, who will not play in Game 4 due to a lower-body injury. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who was knocked out of Game 7 against the Avalanche with an upper-body injury, had been skating on his own in recent days but was held off the ice Friday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Bryan Bickell - Jonathan Toews - Ben Smith

Brandon Saad - Marcus Kruger - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Michal Handzus - Marian Hossa,

Brandon Bollig - Joakim Nordstrom - Jeremy Morin.

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Johnny Oduya

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Matt Cooke - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Cody McCormick

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Clayton Stoner - Keith Ballard

Ilya Bryzgalov

John Curry

Scratched: Mike Rupp, Stephane Veilleux, Carson McMillan, Jake Dowell, Nate Prosser, Jonathon Blum

Injured: Matt Moulson (lower body), Jason Zucker (quad), Darcy Kuemper (upper body), Josh Harding (illness), Niklas Backstrom (abdominal)

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