LOS ANGELES -- No one can say the Minnesota Wild aren't playing desperate. For the second straight game, they erased a third-period deficit against a lockdown, Pacific Division team.
Matt Moulson and Mikko Koivu scored 62 seconds apart in the third and Zach Parise had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Monday night. The Wild increased their lead to five points on the idle Phoenix Coyotes for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 18 saves and remained undefeated in regulation (4-0-2) since he joined Minnesota. The comeback came two days after the Wild rallied from a 1-0 deficit to beat Phoenix.
"You don't want to be behind, but it shows we believe [in] what we do," Koivu said. "I think were right there, even though we were down. We were able to create offensively, and I thought defensively, we were as tight as were they. Overall, I thought it was a good hockey game and it was great for our confidence. To get a win over a team like L.A., they're very deep and have lots of experience. We're proud of our group."
The late rally came without center Mikael Granlund and right wing Nino Niederreiter, who did not play in the third period. Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said each has an upper-body injury and couldn't provide more information.
"It was a real impressive character win," Yeo said. "When you're battling all game, you lose a couple of guys. Let's not kid ourselves; we're playing against a pretty darn good hockey team, a team that's pretty good when they're playing with a lead. But our guys stayed with it.
"The leadership for this group to be able to bounce back and find a way to recapture our game and stay with it in the third period says a lot about our group."
The Wild trailed 2-1 going into the third and appeared to be another late-game loser to the Kings, who saw their six-game winning snapped and were 25-1-0 this season when leading after two periods. The third period push never came: Los Angeles had five shots on goal in the third.
The Kings also blew a third-period lead March 17 against Phoenix.
"It simply wasn't good enough," Justin Williams said. "We've had a tendency this last week or so to be giving up leads in the third period, and that's very, very uncharacteristic of us. We need to rectify that these last five, six games because we're a team that shuts it down once we get the lead."
"It's always good to score a goal," Moulson said. "He's stopped me a lot more times than I've scored on him. He also has a couple of trophies that I don't have as well, so I don't think [there's] too much bragging."
Koivu hammered Charlie Coyle's pass from the top of the left circle at 3:54 for a 3-2 lead.
The Kings' top line continued its upward trend on a goal by Williams at 11:49 of the second. Los Angeles set up quickly in Minnesota's end and Williams was open to one time a patient, soft pass by Marian Gaborik for his 19th goal.
Gaborik extended his point streak to four games.
Defenseman Alec Martinez took advantage of a Minnesota lapse in the first period to score his 11th goal. Gaborik held in a clear attempt before Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon lost the puck to Anze Kopitar, who circled behind the net and set up a pinching Martinez at 6:30.
Martinez finished with seven goals in March and has 12 points in his past 15 games. But the individual statistics were all that the Kings took away from the game.
"Keeping the lead in the third period is usually our team's forte, but we didn't play very well in the second and we had a little collapse in the third period where they got two [goals] really quick and we couldn't get it back," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "They're a good defensive hockey team and we knew that if we let them back in the game it would be tough to win it, and we just didn't do a good enough job."
Minnesota generated a lot of zone time early in the second but Quick held ground, especially with a breakaway stop on Justin Fontaine and Kyle Brodziak on the ensuing rebound. Bryzgalov made a right leg save on Tanner Pearson on a 2-on-1.
Minnesota left wing Dany Heatley was a healthy scratch for the second straight game and second of his career. Local emergency goalie Rob Laurie served as backup for the Wild after Darcy Kuemper was reportedly injured at the morning skate.
The Kings scratched left wing Dwight King for an undisclosed minor injury.
|Alec Martinez (11) ASST: Anze Kopitar (39), Justin Williams (21)|
1 - 0 LAK
|PPG - Zach Parise (28) ASST: Mikael Granlund (33), Mikko Koivu (39)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Justin Williams (19) ASST: Marian Gaborik (14), Willie Mitchell (9)|
2 - 1 LAK
|Matt Moulson (22) ASST: Jason Pominville (26), Erik Haula (6)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Mikko Koivu (10) ASST: Charlie Coyle (16), Zach Parise (23)|
3 - 2 MIN
|Matt Cooke Interference against Jeff Carter|
|Tanner Pearson Hooking against Jonas Brodin|
|Jake Muzzin Roughing against Matt Moulson|
|Matt Moulson Roughing against Jake Muzzin|
|Matt Moulson Roughing against Jake Muzzin|