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Wild blank Ducks in Gustavsson’s return; Brodin injured on hit

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Wild played like a different team from the second period on because they were a different team.

Well, sort of.

A nearly wholesale lineup shuffle occurred after a ho-hum first period against the lowly Ducks, and the Wild responded by running away 4-0 on Tuesday at Honda Center for their fourth win in five games that extended their season-long point streak to eight (6-0-2).

This catapulted the Wild over St. Louis and three points behind Vegas for the last wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

Their road trip concludes Wednesday at Los Angeles.

"It wasn't a bad first period by any means," Wild coach John Hynes said. "But I just didn't think we had a ton going on. A couple changes, and then we got off to a quick start in the second, and I think we were able to continue to build the game the right way from there."

NHL standings

Kirill Kaprizov scored for a fifth consecutive game, Marat Khusnutdinov picked up his first NHL point, and Filip Gustavsson stopped 27 shots for his third shutout of the season in his return to the crease.

"We knew we were going to spend a lot of time in their zone," Gustavsson said. "The guys played really good. We were down there most of the game."

Ryan Hartman nabbed a goal and assist to continue doing an effective job at filling in for the injured Joel Eriksson Ek at center on the top line. Matt Boldy factored in a pair of goals, and the Wild won the special-teams showdown, too, going 1-for-5 on the power play while denying all three Anaheim looks.

Had Jonas Brodin not left the third period hurt the night would have been a slam-dunk success for the Wild.

The veteran defenseman exited with a lower-body injury after getting dropped to the ice by the Ducks' Alex Killorn.

As he fell, Brodin's right leg was crumpled under his body.

Hynes didn't have an update on Brodin after the game.

"Hopefully it's nothing too serious," said Hynes, who described the sequence as "an unfortunate scrum, battle."

BOXSCORE: Wild 4, Anaheim 0

Without Brodin, the Wild finished up the type of no-nonsense performance expected of a team that came into the game with a 25-point edge in the standings over its opponent.

But they apparently needed a nudge to get down to business.

They traded chances with the Ducks in the first period and although Anaheim never capitalized, the pace – and 0-0 tie – reflected better on the Ducks than the Wild.

Cue the makeover, which Hynes communicated on the bench.

Marcus Foligno took Kaprizov's spot alongside Hartman and Boldy to open the second period, and the new-look line scored just 35 seconds later when Hartman buried a Foligno rebound for his third goal in his past five games.

"Feel good," Hartman said. "This is the best time of year. Playoffs are around the corner, and obviously we need a push. We need guys to step up and contribute."

Three shifts later, Khusnutdinov won an offensive-zone faceoff that Frederick Gaudreau scooped up and handed to Jon Merrill for a rising shot by Anaheim goalie John Gibson (28 saves) at 1:56 while Khusnutdinov was in Gibson's sightline as a screen.

Marcus Johansson, who took Foligno's spot next to Khusnutdinov and Gaudreau, retrieved the puck once it was dislodged from the netting since Khusnutdinov's assist – from a faceoff, fittingly – signaled his first NHL point in his third game with the Wild since leaving Russia. Khusnutdinov is 14-for-24 on draws.

"He's compact. He's thick," Gaudreau said. "He's strong. You can tell he's built strong, so those guys are hard to go against [on faceoffs]. Their gravity center is kind of low, and I think he uses that really well."

Then at 11:50, Kaprizov stuffed in the puck at the post on the power play for his team-leading 36th goal and sixth during his five-game goal streak.

The goal was Kaprizov's 150th in the NHL, and he became the fastest in Wild history to reach that plateau (265 games).

As for his eight-game point streak, which is tied for the second-longest in his career, the winger has 10 goals and four assists.

At 5-on-5, Kaprizov reunited with longtime linemate Mats Zuccarello and Marco Rossi, a trio the Wild also used in the third period of Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss at St. Louis.

Only the fourth line stayed together, and they also delivered.

With 6:57 to go in the third period, Adam Beckman (who took Vinni Lettieri's seat in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for three games) fed Jake Lucchini for a one-timer.

"That line brought what you need them to bring," Hynes said. "I thought that they were defensively responsible. They brought energy. They forechecked well."

But the surge on offense wasn't the only sign of the Wild sharpening up.

Gustavsson, after weathering the first period, remained locked-in after a lengthy layoff.

This was his first appearance since March 8, a 2-1 overtime loss at Colorado, but Gustavsson didn't look rusty after backing up Marc-Andre Fleury for four consecutive games.

"He was firm in the net," Hynes said. "He was firm on the puck. He competed hard, so it was good.

"That's the type of goaltending we need from both guys, but it was good to see Gus the way that he worked in between the starts and then to come back and bring that same effort tonight was important."