KINGS (0-0-0) at WILD (0-0-0)
TV: NBCSN, TSN2
Season series: The Minnesota Wild were 2-1-0 in the 2012-13 season series against the Los Angeles Kings, with both wins coming at home. The Kings' Jeff Carter and Justin Williams scored three goals each in those three contests. Minnesota aims to extend its home winning streak against Los Angeles to four games.
Big story: Minnesota will try to extend its streak of never losing its first game of the season at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild tied the Philadelphia Flyers 3-3 in the first regular-season home game in franchise history in 2000 and have won their next 11 home openers (not counting a 2010 game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Finland in which Minnesota was designated as the home team).
Kings: Los Angeles dropped a double-overtime Game 5 to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final last season, one year after they won the first Cup in franchise history in 2012.
Most of the key players from the past two seasons remain, including the 2012-13 team points leader Anze Kopitar, top defenseman Drew Doughty and 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goaltender Jonathan Quick. The eventual return of defenseman Willie Mitchell after the blueliner missed all of last season due to a knee injury should help the team remain a Western Conference favorite.
"We've reached the level of winning the Stanley Cup, being in back-to-back Western Conference Finals, so going forward it's not going to be acceptable to lose in the playoffs," captain Dustin Brown told NHL.com. "That's a high expectation, but that's the expectation that the players have, the group of guys in here now. We know what we're capable of doing."
Wild: The situation in Minnesota looked bleak following the 2011-12 season. The Wild missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season and were desperate for a spark. But the citizens of the State of Hockey were rewarded for their patience as ownership dug deep during the 2012 offseason to land forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.
Those two players were keys in getting the Wild back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, although the team lost in the first round to Chicago. But the confidence gained should spill into the 2013-14 season.
"The shortened season, the new additions, the lack of training camp, it made it challenging in a lot of ways for us," coach Mike Yeo told NHL.com. "But that first step of making the playoffs was big for us and getting that experience … not just getting that experience, but having that feel of coming up short and taking that into next season, for sure it's going to be a good experience for us."
Injury report: The Kings are a bit banged up to open the season with Mitchell (knee) and fellow defensemen Jake Muzzin (knee) and Robyn Regehr (elbow) listed as questionable and Brown (hamstring) deemed doubtful. … For the Wild, forward Mike Rupp (knee) is out indefinitely and forward Torrey Mitchell (undisclosed) is questionable.
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