ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Gutty. Character builder. Character win.
All were phrases being tossed around in the Minnesota Wild room after a the team erased a two-goal deficit against the Stanley Cup champions, playing its second game in as many nights and fifth in eight days.
It was suggested in Wild coach Mike Yeo's post-game press conference that it looked like he just got out of a ring.
"Felt like it," he said. "All I can say is, huge amounts of character by our team. Back-to-back games, playing a team sitting here waiting for us, down 3-1 to a team that doesn't give you much … you've gotta fight for every inch you get on the ice."
After having its seven-game winning streak snapped just 24 hours earlier in Dallas, Minnesota looked to be in trouble midway through the second period, down two goals to a team that was resting in St. Paul on Friday, while the Wild were in Texas.
But a goal by rookie Charlie Coyle towards the end of the second turned the tide and provided the fuel for the Wild's tying goal midway through the third period.
Coyle's goal came thanks to some gritty work by Zach Parise and Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu behind the net. Koivu fed the puck to Coyle in front, but he had his stick lifted before he could get a shot off. He stayed composed, gathered in the puck from his knees and fired past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick for his fourth of the season.
"That was a big shift for us to get that," Coyle said.
Minnesota's top-line also buried the tying goal on the power play midway through the third when Koivu fired a cross-slot, no-look pass to Parise at the left post. His snap shot beat Quick for his team-leading 15th of the year.
For Koivu, his two assists extended his points streak to seven games. He was also credited with the winning goal in the shootout.
"For a guy like me, you try and get open. He puts pucks right on your tape," Parise said. "He gives me two or three good scoring chances a game. For a winger, that's a nice centerman to be playing with."
"It was sloppy, there's no other way to describe it, it was a sloppy game from us," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "Certainly not the way we intended to play the game, but somewhere along the way, we lost our way and let a team back in that we had full control of."
The Kings grabbed a 1-0 lead on the power play 7:58 into the game when Dustin Brown scooped up a loose puck in the left corner, drove to the slot and beat Backstrom with a wrist shot for his 14th of the season.
L.A. entered the contest 13-1-1 when scoring first this season.
But Minnesota got even less than six minutes later, as its red-hot second line capped a pretty series of passes with a goal by Matt Cullen from the top of the left circle. Left wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard entered the zone with the puck and passed to Devin Setoguchi at the right circle. Setoguchi fed the puck back to Cullen for a snap shot that beat Quick to the top corner at 13:19 for his seventh of the season.
Cullen, who started the season slowly, now has points in four straight games and 19 points in his last 19 games.
The Kings struck again with the extra man 3:44 into the second when Jeff Carter rifled a shot from the right circle past Backstrom for his 19th of the season. Williams added a breakaway goal at 11:24 to make it 3-1.
For Carter, the goal was his 400th career point.
"We got away from our game," Williams said. "Far too many turnovers in the neutral zone and at the offensive blue line. Especially with a team that played last night, you need to make them come the whole way."
Minnesota, which boasts one of the top penalty killing units in the NHL, has now allowed five power-play goals in its last two contests.
Backstrom stopped 28 shots to win his League-leading 19th game of the season. The victory was also his eighth straight, a career high. The Wild are now 4-1 in shootouts this season.
Quick made 25 saves and dropped to 12-10-3 on the season.
L.A., which would have pulled even with Minnesota with a win in regulation, now has 41 points -- fifth best in the Western Conference. In the midst of a four-game road trip, the Kings embark on the second half of their own back-to-back set Sunday night in Dallas.
Minnesota's 44 points pulled it even with the Vancouver Canucks atop the Northwest Division, with the former controlling the tiebreaker thanks to two more wins and having one game in hand. The Wild will host St. Louis Monday before heading off on a three-game road trip which brings them to San Jose on Wednesday and Los Angeles on Thursday.
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