LOS ANGELES (AP) - Two of the Los Angeles Kings' top forwards were injured during the Olympics, so it was up to the team's top-scoring defenseman to pull out the victory.
Lubomir Visnovsky scored with 2:36 left in the third period, giving the Kings a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in Los Angeles' first game since the Olympic break.
"I just felt like the guys were ready to get back," said Craig Conroy, the only Kings representative on Team USA. "They had some hard practices, so they were ready for a real game - and that's the way they came out and played."
Michael Cammalleri scored during a two-man advantage in the opening minutes, Luc Robitaille also scored and Conroy had two assists for the Kings, who have won three consecutive games after losing seven straight. They outshot Minnesota 38-31 without Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov in the lineup.
"If we get them back, that's great. But until then, everyone else is going to pick it up," Conroy said. "We can't cry about it now. We've got only 22 games left and we've got to go out there and get it done."
Demitra, whose overtime goal beat Minnesota 2-1 on Oct. 9 in Los Angeles, sustained a broken nose and residual bleeding behind his right eye while competing for Slovakia. Frolov separated his right shoulder while playing for Kazakhstan. The injuries resulted in Conroy being put on a line with Robitaille and Jeremy Roenick.
"When you lose two guys like Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov, you need guys to step up," coach Andy Murray said. "Luc Robitaille and Jeremy Roenick are going to be Hall of Famers because they've been able to step up in their careers. This might be one of the greater challenges for them - to step up and deliver at the end of the year when we need it so badly."
Marian Gaborik scored both goals for Minnesota, 0-2 since the break. The Wild are 11th in the Western Conference standings, just five points out of a playoff spot and eight points behind the seventh-place Kings.
"Hopefully, we have enough gas in the tank to surprise some teams," goalie Manny Fernandez said. "There are a lot of things we need to work on, but these are points that we need."
Gaborik got the equalizer on a 25-foot wrist shot from the slot that beat Mathieu Garon to the stick side with 4:53 left in regulation. It was his 27th goal of the season and 12th in 17 career games against the Kings.
But Visnovsky regained the lead for the Kings with a slap shot from the right point that deflected off a Minnesota player and past Fernandez after the Kings' Eric Belanger won a faceoff from Miiko Koivu deep in the zone. The assist gave Visnovsky 57 points, the most among NHL defenseman, and tied him with Demitra and Conroy for the team lead.
"I liked the way we responded," Murray said. "One of the things we talked about was composure. I guess you could say we had composure because we got the game-winning goal. I don't know how you relate that, but we found a way to get a win."
The Kings came in averaging 19.1 penalty minutes, second-most in the league. But they didn't draw a penalty until Conroy was sent off for high-sticking Pascal Dupuis at 16:25 of the second period.
It was the first time in 12 games that the Kings did not allow a power-play goal, and just the fifth time in their last 43 contests. Minnesota scored five times with the man advantage against the Kings in a 5-1 victory on Feb. 7.
"We needed to be better on our penalty killing. And to help that, we needed to take fewer penalties," Murray said.
"We talked about the way the referees were going to call the game, and that they were going to call it as tight or tighter than they did before the break because they had a referees clinic last weekend. And when then come out of those clinics, they're going to call everything. I certainly saw that the last two nights watching the games on TV, so we had to be aware of that."
The Wild came in with an NHL-leading 89.5 percentage on the penalty kill, but Cammalleri was able to capitalize on a two-man advantage at 4:05 of the period after Kurtis Foster was sent off for interference and Willie Mitchell received a high-sticking penalty 30 seconds later.
"We played good and deserved better, but we took too many penalties," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said.
Gaborik tied it less than 2 1/2 minutes later, but Robitaille put the Kings ahead 2-1 at 8:01 of the second period with his 14th goal and 667th of his career.
Notes: Minnesota D Daniel Tjarnqvist played his first game since helping Sweden win the Olympic gold medal Sunday. ... This was the first game Frolov has missed this season because of injury. He sat out three consecutive games in January because of the flu.
|PPG - Mike Cammalleri (20) ASST: Joe Corvo (19), Craig Conroy (37)|
1 - 0 LAK
|Marian Gaborik (26) ASST: Filip Kuba (17), Daniel Tjarnqvist (11)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Luc Robitaille (14) ASST: Craig Conroy (38), Jeremy Roenick (9)|
2 - 1 LAK
|Marian Gaborik (27) ASST: Randy Robitaille (23), Mikko Koivu (12)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Lubomir Visnovsky (15) ASST: Tom Kostopoulos (12), Eric Belanger (16)|
3 - 2 LAK
|Kurtis Foster Interference against Sean Avery|
|Willie Mitchell Hi-sticking against Dustin Brown|
|Daniel Tjarnqvist Hooking against Mike Cammalleri|
|Filip Kuba Delaying Game - Puck over glass|
|Marian Gaborik Hooking against Lubomir Visnovsky|
|Craig Conroy Hi-sticking against Pascal Dupuis|
|Mike Cammalleri Cross checking against Willie Mitchell|