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Updated: December 3rd, 2011 12:52am
Wild rally from early deficit, beats Devils to take NHL points lead

Wild rally from early deficit, beats Devils to take NHL points lead

by Marley McMillan
1500ESPN.com
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild scored three straight goals in the first period and Kyle Brodziak had his first back-to-back goal game of the season in a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center.

The skinny

Zach Parise ignited the scoreboard for the Devils at 2:54 of the first period, but Dany Heatley answered 20 seconds later to spark a three-goal onslaught by the Wild, who now lead the NHL with 35 points.

Skating in his second game of the year, Casey Wellman netted the Wild's third and final goal just over 9 minutes into the game.

"Even if he didn't score that goal," Yeo said, "I thought he played a good game, and that's important to me."

The goal was Wellman's first of the season and his third in 29 games for the Wild.

Martin Brodeur was summoned to the bench after letting in three goals on four shots.

The Wild also made a goaltending change after Niklas Backstrom tweaked something in his lower body on the first Devils' goal.

Harding was told in between periods that he was going to play, and he stopped all 22 shots he faced.

"(Harding) got the nod, and the smile goes right off the face, and he's ready to go right away," Heatley said. "He played great, as he has all year."

The Wild were outshot 26-13.

"Some credit has to go to New Jersey," Yeo said. "We knew we were playing a desperate team (Friday). They got embarrassed (against Colorado) and we knew that they were going to come in here with a great effort and I thought effort-wise, our guys battled extremely hard today."

Covering at the defensive left point, Parise received an indirect pass and dragged the puck across the blue line in preparation for an on-ice slap-shot that found its way unscathed and through Backstrom's pads to put the Devils on the board.

Heatley answered back 20 seconds later after streaking down the right board and utilizing some deceptive eye contact on the 4-on-2 to bewilder the Devils' defense before firing a quick wrist over Brodeur's left shoulder.

Less than 4 minutes later, the Wild lit the scoreboard again when Brodziak drove hard to the net off the left board, beating the Devils' defender. Brodeur made the first save and Brodziak fanned on the first rebound but spun around for the second, lifting a soft backhand high over Brodeur's glove and into the net.

Wellman scored after screening a one-timer by Matt Cullen in the slot and hammering away at the rebounds until the puck trickled through Brodeur's pads.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored the Devils' second and final goal on a screened Backstrom after wheeling around the right circle into the slot and firing a wrist shot.

Turning point

Setoguchi was called for a slashing penalty with just under 4 minutes remaining in the game, soliciting raucous boos from the crowd.

But Brodziak scored on the next play to increase the Wild's lead to two.

Numbers game

• 5-of-7: Heatley goals that have been the Wild's first goals of the game.
• 3: Goals by Brodziak in the last two games, the first time he has had back-to-back goal games since Feb. 14 to March 3.
• 5: Career assists for Backstrom.
• 8: Least amount of minutes played by Brodeur in a start. He let in three goals against Carolina on Jan. 1 for the shortest outing of his career.

Health watch

• Backstrom suffered a minor lower body injury after the first goal of Friday's game, but Yeo does not expect it to be serious.
Cal Clutterbuck did not skate in the game after suffering a severe charley horse in Wednesday's 3-2 shootout win at Edmonton.
Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) and Marek Zidlicky (concussion) remain on the injured reserve list.

Summary

First period

Devils - Zach Parise (Greene, Henrique), 2:54
Wild - Dany Heatley (Spurgeon, Backstrom), 3:14
Wild - Kyle Brodziak (unassisted), 6:55
Wild - Casey Wellman (Cullen, Bouchard), 8:17
Devils - Iyla Kovalchuk (Parise), 13:59

Second period

No scoring.

Third period

Wild - Kyle Brodziak (Johnson, Scandella), 16:24

Shots: Wild 6-6-4-16; Devils 9-12-10-31. Saves: Wild, Niklas Backstrom (7-9), Josh Harding (22-22); Devils, Martin Brodeur (3-4), Johan Hedberg (11-12). Power plays: Wild 0-for-3, Devils 0-for-5.

Three stars

1. Kyle Brodziak
2. Josh Harding
3. Casey Wellman

Coming up

The Wild commence a five-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks at 7 p.m. Sunday. In their first matchup on Oct. 27, the Ducks defeated the Wild 3-2. In their most recent encounter on Nov. 13, the Wild defeated the Ducks with the same score.

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