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Wild turn back to checking line for Game 2

by Mike G. Morreale

CHICAGO -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo will likely reunite one of his top checking lines for Game 2 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at United Center (3 p.m. ET; NBC, RDS, TSN).

Yeo had right wing Justin Fontaine working the third unit alongside center Erik Haula and left wing Nino Niederreiter during practice Saturday afternoon at United Center. It was a line Yeo had together against Colorado Avalanche rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon in Minnesota's first-round series victory and it worked effectively in Games 4, 5, 6.

Dany Heatley skated at left wing on the fourth line Saturday with center Kyle Brodziak and right wing Cody McCormick.

"I feel we had a good series when we played together against Colorado," Niederreiter said. "We are three pretty fast guys and we know we can make plays out there but at same time we know we have to play solid defensively and make sure we play our game and system. That's when good things will happen."

Yeo was asked if the move to reinsert Fontaine was necessitated after witnessing Patrick Kane score two third-period goals in a 5-2 loss in Game 1 at United Center on Friday.

"Yes, partly, and some of it was matchups too," Yeo said. "That line was matched up against MacKinnon in our last series. I thought Haula played a really strong game. Fontaine has played well against Chicago in the regular season. We felt, going into Game 1 and given what happened in the last game of the first series, we'd stick with the same lineup but that we would expect to see [Fontaine] very soon in this series."

Yeo confirmed goalie Ilya Bryzgalov would start Game 2.

Bryzgalov made some key early saves Friday, finishing with 12 of his 17 stops in the first period. He allowed three goals on eight shots over the final two periods, while Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford turned away 22 of 24 shots over that same span.

"I thought he played pretty well and I expect him to play well [Sunday]," Yeo said. "When I looked at the video of that game and that area, I'm not too sure what he could have done on the goals that went in. He's excited for the game and putting pressure on himself. I want everyone to remember that [Game 1] and feel that game but come out with a little more this time around."

The coach was forced almost by default to go to his fourth goalie on the depth chart, Bryzgalov, after Darcy Kuemper sustained an upper-body injury in Game 7 against the Avalanche. Josh Harding hasn't played since New Year's Eve after a setback with multiple sclerosis, and Niklas Backstrom has been on injured reserve since Jan. 31 with an abdominal injury.

"I thought Bryzgalov played well, he was confident and challenging around the net when they had a couple of chances," defenseman Clayton Stoner said. "Goaltending shouldn't be an issue if he keeps playing like he did [Friday]. We'll be fine."

Here are the line combinations the Wild practiced with Saturday:

Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Matt Moulson - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Cody McCormick

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin

Clayton Stoner - Nate Prosser

Ilya Bryzgalov

John Curry / Josh Harding

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