NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, March 31st
(All times Eastern)
Los Angeles Kings (39-27-12) at Minnesota Wild (32-35-10), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - In the span of a few hours, the Kings went from being in
eighth place in the Western Conference to the third seed as Pacific Division
Los Angeles hopes a trip to Minnesota will help it stay there as the Kings
battle the also-ran Wild this evening.
The Kings picked up their second straight victory and eighth in their last 10
trips to the ice last night with a 4-1 decision at Edmonton. That gave them 90
points on the season, one ahead of both the Stars and Coyotes and two up on
the Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division.
All four clubs have four games left to play, with Dallas visiting San Jose
tonight and Phoenix hosting last-place Anaheim.
The Kings put themselves in the driver's seat to win their first division
title since 1991 thanks to a goal and an assist from Anze Kopitar versus the
Oilers and 13 saves by Jonathan Quick.
"Two points is what we want every game from here till the end," said Los
Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter. "Every game is important and I thought
everyone did a real good job tonight."
Drew Doughty, Mike Richards and Alec Martinez each scored for the Kings, who
played without Jeff Carter due to an ankle injury that also leaves him
doubtful for tonight. Carter was hurt in Wednesday's win over the Flames and
has logged six goals and three assists in 16 games since being acquired prior
to the trade deadline from Columbus.
Los Angeles is wrapping a four-game road trip tonight and will look to win the
season series from Minnesota. The Kings have won two of the three meetings
this year, including a 4-0 triumph in its last trip to Minnesota.
The Wild showed they aren't ready to quit on the season just yet despite being
eliminated from playoff contention, and played the role of spoiler on Thursday
with a dramatic 3-2 win over the Panthers in overtime.
Minnesota notched the game-tying goal with 30.3 seconds left in regulation and
netted the winner 15 ticks into overtime. The win snapped the Wild's three-
game slide and was just their fourth victory in 15 games.
Tom Gilbert assisted on both of the late tallies, taking a shot in the third
period that hit off of Erik Christensen and the post before Christensen
stuffed home the rebound. Gilbert then sprung Mikko Koivu with a home-run pass
that allowed Minnesota's captain to split the defense and race in for a score.
"Wins are what matters," Koivu said. "Sometimes I don't care how you play if
you just win the game."
Kyle Brodziak scored his career-best and team high-tying 21st goal of the
season, while Niklas Backstrom made 25 saves in his first start since
suffering a lower-body injury on March 1.
Minnesota has split the first two of a three-game homestand and saw forward
Jason Zucker made his NHL debut in the win. Zucker became the club-record 45th
player to appear in a game for the Wild this season and 14th rookie.
03/31 10:34:20 ET