Maybe the two most excited Wild players to see Mikko Koivu back in the lineup Monday night against the Vancouver Canucks were Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen.

Koivu's linemates have been lost souls since Koivu broke his left index finger on Feb. 18.

"When we lost Mikko, we lost Mikko, but I think we lost half of the other players, too," coach Todd Richards said, referring to how he had to experiment with different centers between slumping Brunette and Miettinen.

"You're trying different guys out to get the same output from those other two, and it just wasn't the right match for whatever reason. So now getting Mikko back, hopefully it elevates the play of the other two."

That's exactly what happened Monday, when Brunette scored late in the second period off a pass from Koivu. Then early in the third, Brunette fed Koivu for a goal that cut the Canucks' lead to 3-2.

During Koivu's 11-game absence, Brunette recorded one goal and two assists. Miettinen had no goals and three assists, with the three assists coming in one game in Anaheim.

"You patchwork it for a while and it exposes you a bit," Brunette said. "We've played with each other the last three years, so there's a comfort level there. When you take one out, especially the center, it hurts a lot.

"We haven't played in [the opponent's] end enough. It's hard to score and create when you don't have the puck down low, and that's where Mikko's so strong. The thing is, I really felt the last month or so [before Koivu was hurt] was our best hockey of the year as a line.''