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After Opening Night Loss, Wild Gets Back At It

by Kelly Erickson / Minnesota Wild

A mere 12 hours after Opening Night shenanigans wrapped up at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild were back on the ice, trying to shake that unique, disappointing feeling that seems to linger after taking a shootout loss.

It’s like taking an upper cut to the gut and getting a sticker for your troubles.

While the Wild shone at times last night Head Coach Mike Yeo noted today that they can’t pat themselves on the back, because when it comes right down to it, they didn’t win. But the bench boss is confident that if they continue to work hard in practice and bring that work to the ice for a full 60 minutes on game nights, the wins will come.

While the Wild saw a few standout performances last night — you can check out Mike Doyle’s own Five Takeaways here, where he discusses a few of them — Yeo also noted that he liked the way Kyle Brodziak played. The center had an off year last season after opening the season with an unreported case of pneumonia and his game wasn’t really able to recover throughout the remainder of the season.

Thursday night, though, Brodziak showed a return to form. With his strength back he made his presence felt and picked up an assist on the night, feeding Matt Cooke from the corner for the first score of the season. Yeo said he looked confident and making that first step in the season opener is a big step that allows Brodziak to put last season behind him and focus on what’s ahead.

And he’s not the only one. Despite the loss, Yeo said the focus is now on the Saturday’s contest with the Anaheim Ducks and working on improving the Wild’s game. Yeo didn't talk about lines at all on Friday, but be sure to check tomorrow for the full preview of the evening's game — lines included.

Meanwhile, one young Wild skater hit an interesting landmark last night. Justin Fontaine made his NHL debut with the Wild, skating on the fourth line, and became the 50th University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog to play in the NHL.

When he heard about the mark today, Fontaine said it’s simply an honor to follow in the footsteps of the alumni who have led the way.

I actually saw Fontaine play in college in the 2010-11 season, his senior year and the same year in which the Bulldogs won the whole shebang. I was a sophomore at Wisconsin and I wouldn’t exactly gush about that year for my Badgers. In fact, Fontaine and the Bulldogs took three out of fours games from Wisconsin on the season series including a sweep at the Kohl Center in a pair of overtime contests.

At least we can now set those college differences aside.

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