Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  By Brian Hall  |  Last updated 3/3/14
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikko Koivu and Marco Scandella are facing an NHL game Monday night with a bit of nerves. It's been almost a month since the Minnesota Wild has had their captain, Koivu, and one of their top-4 defenseman in Scandella because of injuries. Koivu and Scandella will both return to the lineup on Monday night as Minnesota returns home for a game for the first time since Feb. 6. Koivu, third on the team with 35 points, has been out since Jan. 4, needing ankle surgery after a puck went off the inside of his right foot. The injury caused Koivu to miss the Olympics and he worked his way back, taking precaution by not playing when the Wild returned from the break last week with a pair of road wins. "Obviously it's been a long wait and kind of frustrating all the time basically after the surgery," Koivu said after Monday's morning skate. "So yeah, very excited and obviously a little nervous, but that's part of the step to take to the game. But yeah, it will be fun." Scandella suffered a knee injury in the second-to-last game before the break. The timing of the two-week-plus break proved fortunate for Scandella, who only missed three games. "It's been a month and it feels like a long time," Scandella said. Scandella said he will wear a brace for support on the knee. "Last week was a little tough just to get used to the brace," Scandella said. "But there's a bunch of guys in the NHL who use a brace. So it takes a little bit of time but I feel really comfortable." Koivu won't return to his usual line with Zach Parise. Parise and Jason Pominville have played well with Mikael Granlund at center during Koivu's absence. Coach Mike Yeo decided to keep the line intact and will have Koivu with Dany Heatley and Charlie Coyle to start Monday's game. "Both guys he's got chemistry with, both guys he's played with in the past," Yeo said. "Obviously three big bodies that we think should be tough to contain." Having the captain return after missing 17 games is another boost to a team that excelled despite several key injuries in January and February. "It means that we're getting a great player back," Yeo said of Koivu's return. "We know what he means to our team. You use a guy like that in every situation. It's all the little things, it's all the intangibles. I mean, obviously he has the ability to create offense every time he is on the ice, but it's the way that he defends. It's the way that he plays against top players, it's the faceoffs he takes, it's the special teams he plays. So it's obviously a great player that we're excited to have back." Wild sign Gabriel: Minnesota officially signed forward Kurtis Gabriel to a three-year, entry-level contract on Monday. Gabriel, a third-round pick by the Wild in the 2013 NHL Draft, has played this season for the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League and has 12 goals and 30 assists in 54 games. Gabriel, 20, plays a physical game at 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds, as evidenced by his 86 penalty minutes this season. His three-year contract will begin next season. "We're very happy with Kurtis' progress this year and look forward to him developing within our organization," Minnesota assistant general manager Brent Flahr said in a release. "He's a hard-working kid that brings an intriguing package of size, physical competitiveness and character." Kuemper named NHL's third star: Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper started both games for Minnesota after the break, a pair of wins at Edmonton and Vancouver. He was honored as the league's third star of the week for the effort, stopping 51 of the 52 shots he faced. He had a 0.48 goals-against average and .981 save percentage in the two games, with one shutout. Kuemper stopped all seven attempts in a shootout win against the Canucks. Since Jan. 7, he ranks tied for second in the NHL with 10 wins. He is 10-2-2 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in that span, ranking second in the league in save percentage and fifth in goals-against average among goalies who have played more than 10 games. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Redskins have discussed possibly signing Hardy

Kimbo Slice’s son set to make MMA debut

Did Bell miss drug tests due to changed phone number?

Brian Cashman defends A-Rod despite season's struggles

Report: Charles’ workload won’t be limited if healthy

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Westbrook doesn’t want trade, will think about extension

Chargers don’t know if Joey Bosa will report to camp

Report: RG3 to be given four out of five first-team reps

Report: Peterson likely entering last season with Vikings

Cubs trade for Chapman a risk, but potential payoff too hard to ignore

Wisconsin kicker will wear 27 to honor Nebraska's Sam Foltz

Mark Dantonio denies MSU negatively recruits against PSU

Blue Jays agree to acquire Melvin Upton

Brett Favre selects wife Deanna as his Hall of Fame presenter

Durant shopped for OKC home week before joining Warriors?

Jarron, Jason Collins speak in support of LGBTQ rights at DNC

Von Miller has some wild thoughts about human evolution

The crowning achievement of Sasha Banks

Six best QB battles to watch during training camp

Kobe Bryant called ‘a–hole’ in LeBron James-produced show

Top five storylines heading into MLB trade deadline

Chris Sale’s so-called ‘apology’ was anything but

Ten hottest golfers heading into 2016 PGA Championship

Wild News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker