The Kings held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 only to watch the Wild tie the score twice, but Anze Kopitar
and Teddy Purcell scored for the Kings as Los Angeles held on for a 4-3 victory over the Wild for a season sweep of Minnesota, their first sweep in series history.
"I don’t know it’s hard to say. It just seems like were playing really good against them and the past two years we’ve struggled against them," Kopitar said. "But like I said it’s definitely a big game this time of the year for us".
The win brought the Kings back to .500 at 28-28-9, five points out of a playoff spot in the wild Western Conference. The win gave the Kings a sweep of the Wild, Minnesota swept the Kings in 2006-07 with LA posting an 0-2-2 mark. The Kings are 14-10-8 against Minnesota since the Wild entered the league in 2000-01. The Kings previous best mark against Minnesota was a 3-1-0 mark vs. the Wild during the 2005-06 season...The two wins at Minnesota is a series high for the Kings and Los Angeles last won two games vs. Minnesota at STAPLES during the 2005-06 season. Minnesota had scored just four goals in the three games vs. LA, entering tonight, they tallied two in the first period and three for the game.
THE RETURN OF FOSTER
Minnesota defenseman Kurtis Foster appeared in his first game since breaking his leg in three places on March 19, 2008 at San Jose (video of the injury can be found on youtube).
"They threw me right in there," Foster said. "It gave me a chance not to be too nervous just to dress quick and get out there. In the third period my legs were a little spent, but I started to realize what was going on out there and it was just fun to be back out there. It was a tough loss because we’re playing for points right now, but just to get out there and get the feel of an NHL game again and the speed of it and the way it’s played, it was a great feeling and a great accomplishment on my side. I still have a ways to go and there are still things that I need to improve, but for the most part I feel pretty good, pretty strong. I think after a few games and getting confident again that I can really help the team."
Foster finished scoreless with 9:28 TOI. He tallied 7-12=19 in 56 games last season with the Wild and has been rehabbing the injury for the better part of the last year. He spent six games with the Houston Aeros, the Wild's AHL affiliate, scoring 1-5=6 in his rehab stint. Foster did not participate in warm ups today, but had his number called after Brent Burns was a last-minute scratch due to an illness.
THE TWO KYLES
Kyle Quincey scored 2:26 into the game on a shot that snuck under the pads of All-Star Goaltender Niklas Backstrom. Quincey's tally marked the first time the Kings had scored first in a game at STAPLES Center since Jan. 29 vs. Chicago, a span of of five games. It was Quincey's first goal since Jan. 6 at Anaheim and lifted his totals to 4-33=37 on the season, tops amongst Kings blueliners...Quincey is tied for seventh amongst defensemen in assists and 17th in points.
After Owen Nolan tallied the equalizer, Kyle Calder then notched his eighth goal of the season, his first since scoring the game winner at Washington on Feb. 5, giving the Kings a short lived 2-1 lead.
HANDZUS, PURCELL AND KOPITAR EXTEND HOT STREAKS
Michal Handzus stayed hot with a second-period assist on Kopitar's 23rd goal of the season, Kopitar's fourth-straight game with a goal. Handzus has now tallied 3-3=6 over his last five games. Kopitar's goal was the last shot that the All-Star netminder Backstrom would face, being pulled after surrendering three goals on 13 shots in 28:45.
"When you’re on a little hot streak it seems like the puck is coming to you," Kopitar said. "When you’re struggling with scoring it seems like everything is getting away. But hopefully I’m going to keep going like that. It’s just the right spot at the right time."
Murray has seen Kopitar's play on the offensive side of the puck grow as the season has progressed.
"I think he’s had a pretty good year on the checking part of the game. I think that was a big change for Kopitar, whenever I come in to talk about responsibilities in our defensive zone away from the puck, he did a tremendous job on focusing on play below our goal line to help our defenseman out," Head coach Terry Murray said. "The offensive part was just a matter of time before it worked itself out."
Purcell, meanwhile, put the Kings up 4-2, with his third goal of the season off assists from Alexander Frolov and Quincey. Purcell has points in four straight games, scoring 2-2=4.
THIS AND THAT
Kopitar now has a career-high four-game goal-scoring streak and has seven points in that span (4-3=7)... Purcell has a career-high four-game point streak (2-2=4)...Quincey had two points (1-1=2) and is now tied for seventh among NHL defensemen with 33 assists (as of this afternoon). Quincey has four points in the last three games (1-3=4)...Handzus (3-2=5) and Alexander Frolov (1-4=5) both have three-game point streaks...Referee Rob Shick worked his final NHL game today...The Kings (65 points) have nine more points than they had through 65 games last season (11 more points than they had through 65 games in 2006-07)...It was the Kings 12th sellout of the season (10th sellout in the last 14 home games).
KINGS HEAD COACH TERRY MURRAY:
(Re: Strong Power Play):
"Our power play has been real good at critical times. The secret is that we’re shooting the puck. We’re taking it, attacking the seams, attacking the net, we have great traffic in front of the net right now and we’re keeping it pretty simple. We’re not looking to pass the puck into the net and I think that was the big issue that we had in the early part of the season, but now it’s the way it supposed to be. Get the puck into the hands of the people who have good positioning and shoot it."
KINGS DEFENSEMAN KYLE QUINCEY:
(Re moving forward):
"We need to focus on the details. We’re going to have to come out every night. We can’t take any nights off. We can’t give any teams easy wins. We have to play perfect hockey here. We showed that we can go on rolls and it’s do-or-die for us now. You either show up or you don’t."
KINGS FORWARD ANZE KOPITAR:
(Re game recap):
"It was great to create some momentum and we certainly did. We had really two strong efforts. We came from behind Thursday but it doesn’t really matter – we’ll take two points any day".
MINNESOTA HEAD COACH JACQUES LEMAIRE:
(Re: game recap)
"It was not a good day for the goalie. There were some stoppable shots, but I thought we battled, most of the guys battled hard. We tried to come back. It’s hard because we don’t score a lot of goals and when you get easy goals against you then you’re in trouble. The Kings work hard, they play exactly the way we play. There’s not much difference between the two teams. You can tell they are trying to be on the puck and they are really sound defensively. Their power plays worked when they had to work. It seems that there’s always something that is not clicking. Were trying to pinpoint what the problem is and we’re still searching. We wont get back if we don’t start to get points.