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NHL: Wild's Fontaine caught in numbers crunch

Justin Fontaine entered Saturday night’s game against Columbus tied for third among Wild scorers with 12 goals, but the rookie right wing remains caught in the numbers crunch initiated by Minnesota’s trade deadline acquisitions.

Fontaine, a former Minnesota Duluth player, was scratched for the fifth consecutive game against the Blue Jackets. He has not dressed since the Wild acquired forwards Cody McCormick and Matt Moulson on March 5.

Fontaine remains the odd man out as coach Mike Yeo assimilates his new-look lineup and special teams, which excludes the first-year forward.

 “Part of it is a little based on roles right now,” Yeo said. “We’re going to need a fourth line to play and eat up minutes. It’s not just the five on five. We’ve got (Dany) Heatley playing on the power play, and so he’s taking up minutes there. And you’ve got (Erik) Haula and McCormick who are both key guys in our penalty kill right now.

 “And unfortunately for Fontaine, he wouldn’t factor into either one of those right now. We do want to get him in the lineup, but at the same time we’ve got guys in roles right now, so we have to approach it that way.”

Yeo planned to preserve the line combinations from Thursday’s 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers. He continued the rotation on Minnesota’s third defense pair, scratching Keith Ballard for Nate Prosser.