Kings carry red-hot road mark into game with Wild
Saturday, 12.11.2010 / 4:30 PM
NHL.comWILD (12-11-4) at KINGS (16-10-0)
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Last 10 --
Minnesota 3-5-2; Los Angeles 4-6-0
Season series --
The Kings will try to improve upon a 7-2-0 record against the Wild in their last nine meetings, including a 3-2 shootout win on Oct. 25, the first clash of four this season.
Big story --
Home cooking has sustained the Kings through some road misadventures and they have a chance to complete a perfect four-game stand Saturday night. Their 11-2-0 start at home is only one game off the pace of their best ever, a 12-1-0 mark in the Stanley Cup Final season of 1992-93. The Wild stopped a five-game losing streak Thursday night with a 3-2 victory in Phoenix and have points in three straight games (1-0-2), matching a previous season high.
Things were looking pretty bleak when the Wild pulled into Phoenix on Thursday. Something had to give, and the top line gave the team a much-needed victory, 3-2 over the Coyotes, their first win at Jobing.com Arena since 2008.
Andrew Brunette, Antti Miettinen and Mikko Koivu combined for 6 points. Brunette knocked in a pair of goals, while the other two picked up assists on a Brunette goal and Brent Burns' first-period tally. For Brunette, it was his first two-goal game since March 28, 2008 against Edmonton.
"It's important for us to feel like we're pulling our weight, helping out," he said. "The results haven't been there the whole season. I feel like we've played a high level when we've had the puck, but we haven't had the puck enough. We found a way to get the puck a little more, and if we do that, we'll be OK."
"Make hay while the sun shines," the proverb says. For the Kings, it shines brightly at Staples Center, where they are 3-0 on their current homestand, beating the Flames 2-1 on Thursday for their third straight one-goal win, Anze Kopitar
scoring the winner in all of them. It's especially nice considering the wins come after a four-game losing streak and the 3-6-0 stretch that nearly undid their strong start.
"In my three years here, I think that was the best 60 minutes we've played against that team," defenseman Drew Doughty
said. "Every time, I don't know what it is, but we come out slow against them, and if we have the lead, we lose it, or if we're losing, we never get it back. So it was definitely good to play tonight. That whole 60 minutes, I thought we were stellar the entire time, except for maybe in that last five minutes when they got that goal, they were on us a little bit. But besides that, we were great.''
One streak did end, however. Olli Jokinen scored a power-play goal 16:39 into the third period Thursday, stopping the Kings' perfect run of home penalty kills at 45 straight. The Kings fell just short of becoming the first team to go 13 home games perfect on the PK since Colorado did it in 2001-02.
"It wasn't everything, but we certainly were aware of it," defenseman Rob Scuderi
said. "We wanted to keep it going."
Who's hot -- Jonathan Quick
has been in nets throughout the current homestand, and he's held opponents to two goals or fewer five games in a row. He has a 1.63 goals-against average over the current streak and a 9-2-0 mark with a 1.45 GAA at home. His counterpart on the other end of the ice, Niklas Backstrom, has stopped 63 of 65 shots in his last two games after allowing 13 goals in his last two November starts.
Injury report --
Only twice in the Kings' 27 games so far has coach Terry Murray been given the luxury of a full complement on defense. That might happen again as Willie Mitchell
, out since Nov. 6 with a broken finger, may be cleared to play as early as Monday in Detroit. … Wild forward Matt Cullen sat out the third period in Phoenix when his groin tightened up and is day-to-day, while defenseman Clayton Stoner (upper body) was available to play Thursday but was scratched.
Stat pack --
Brunette, Koivu and Miettinen had a combined total of 9 points in eight games going into the Coyotes game, Brunette having just a goal and no assists. Koivu hadn't had a multi-point game since Nov. 6, Brunette since Oct. 14. Brunette's second goal Thursday was only Minnesota's second on the power play in 32 chances.
Puck drop --
"We still are not happy about all of those losses, but we are past that and now that we are on a roll, we just want to continue this. We have a big game Saturday and then we go right into Detroit on Monday, both of those games are conference games and must wins." -- Doughty on the Kings getting back on track