You have to feel for Nick Bjugstad.

The 28-year-old forward was finally finding his niche in the Wild lineup last month before an upper-body injury stopped him in his tracks.

It occurred in an April 5 game against the rival Colorado Avalanche. After scoring a goal and tallying an assist earlier in the night, Bjugstad got tangled up with Avalanche defenseman Kyle Burroughs, and both players dropped the gloves.

Let’s just say it didn’t go well for Bjugstad. He couldn’t get his gloves off in time and Burroughs unloaded with haymaker after haymaker before the officials finally stepped in.

The final uppercut appeared to do the most damage as Bjugstad went straight to the locker room after serving his time in the penalty box. He hadn’t played a game since.

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Until Saturday. He skated alongside Victor Rask and opposite Kevin Fiala against the St. Louis Blues. Marcus Johansson missed the game with an upper-body injury.

It was a long-awaited return for Bjugstad. He hadn’t been able to crack the Wild lineup over the past couple of weeks with coach Dean Evason opting to keep his lines in tact.

All the while Bjugstad remained a consummate professional. He never complained about playing time and continued to be a good teammate in practice.

“We had a good chat,” Evason said before the game against the Blues. “He’s itching to get back in there. We will see going forward. We feel very comfortable if we were to make a switch at some point that he will be ready.”

Maybe knowing at that point that Bjugstad was hours away from returning to action, Evason continued to heap praise on the former Gophers star.

“He’s worked his butt off and getting himself in terrific shape,” Evason said. “We know when he’s called upon he will be ready to go. A lot of guys go through it. It’s part of the game, especially this year with COVID and all that stuff. You’ve got to stay as ready.”

Briefly

Kaapo Kahkonen got the nod between the pipes for the Wild in Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues. That gave fellow goaltender Cam Talbot a chance to rest after losing consecutive games earlier this week.