St. Paul - The Kings have found a solution to its struggles at home: play on the road.
Jack Johnson scored a power-play goal to tie the game in the second period and rookie Drew Doughty scored the game-winning goal in the shootout to lead the Kings to a 2-1 shootout victory over the Wild in front of an overflow crowd of 18,568 at the Xcel Energy Center.
Jonathan Quick made 23 saves on the night including three-out-of-four shots in the shootout and head coach Terry Murray knows the importance of his goaltender coming down the stretch.
"Most of our games that are remaining are on the road and as you know the goaltenders are going to be tested," Murray said. "He’s a young guy who is playing pretty innocent and playing very well for us."
KINGS SHOOTOUT WINNERS
Johnson became the first player this season to beat Niklas Backstrom in a shootout, firing the puck by the helpless goaltender after a backhand-forehand move put Backstrom out of position. Antti Miettinen tied the shootout on the third shot though and set the table for Doughty. Doughty also tried a backhand-forehand move but the puck slid off his stick, luckily for him it went between Backstrom’s pads and proved the old adage, it’s better to be lucky than good.
"It wasn’t my planned move I wanted to get back to my forehand on the other side of the net but I kinda lost it and last resort just poked it through his legs," Doughty said.
LA improved to 4-7 in shootouts this season while the Wild fell to 4-2.
The Kings improved to 8-2-1 in its last 11 road games, despite going just 1-5-2 in its last eight home games.
"We didn’t play very well at home there," Doughty said. "It seems like we play better on the road, the reasons for that I don’t know but it was huge to get those two points tonight and continue this road trip, hopefully we get the rest."
The Kings will continue its road trip tomorrow in Philadelphia (4 p.m. PT).
"We need points," Quick said. "We’re trying to get points so we’re going to go in there and be feisty and try to get a couple points in Philly."
The Kings improved to 4-6-1 in the first game of a back-to-back and is 4-6-0 this season in the second game. LA plays 16 of its final 23 games on the road.
Antti Miettinen scored for Minnesota shorthanded 5:48 into the second period, converting a two-on-one with Mikko Koivu. It was the seventh short-handed goal given up by LA this season and Minnesota’s fourth short-handed goal in the last eight games.
"They’re a great penalty killing team," Murray said. "They put a lot of pressure in all three zones, you have to have a lot of composure or be very strong physically to be able to make plays with the kind of pressure they put on."
LA responded on its next power-play though with the goal from Johnson at 14:55, ending Minnesota’s streak of 25 successful penalty kills, dating back to Feb. 11. The Kings created a scramble in front of the net but could not beat Backstrom until a clearing attempt by Wild defenseman Kim Johnsson deflected behind Backstrom and tied the game.
Captain Dustin Brown missed his first game this season due to the birth of his second child, Mason.
"We miss his leadership, we miss his physical play, but we put a good young player in the lineup in Purcell," Murray Said. "Certainly we miss him (Brown) but everybody understands the circumstances of being with his family with a newborn baby and we’re happy for him."
Brown has been a work-horse for the Kings, missing only his ninth game since the beginning of the 2005-06 season. He has improved his point total each season and became the youngest captain in Kings history on Oct. 8.
"It’s definitely hard to miss Brownie, but other guys stepped up," Doughty said. "He’s definitely a presence out there, our Captain and leader but I think overall we played a very sound defensive hockey game."
Brown is expected to join the team at Detroit on Friday night.
THIS AND THAT
After giving up 19 goals in regulation over the past four games, the Kings allowed just one goal on 24 shots and had 11 blocked shots on the night…Denis Gauthier served the final game of his two game suspension and will be eligible to play in Philadelphia tomorrow…the Kings gave up the first goal for the sixth time in seven games, but improved to 4-18-6 this season when giving up the first goal…the Kings have won all three meetings this season against the Wild and have never swept the season series, the final game between the teams this season is March 7 at STAOLES Center…Backstrom had stopped all 12 shots he faced in a shootout this season, the last eligible goaltender at 100 percent until Johnson beat him on the second attempt of the night.
On recovering from Minnesota SH goal
"We did and it was necessary to do that. It’s down to crunch time for everyone in the game now to play and walk away from all the bad things that can happen and come back with a solid shift after that. We responded, and it was good."
On the game
"It was a good game from both teams. I thought both teams battled hard. The board game was pretty hard…heavy. Heavy sticks, and there were some scoring chances, both goalies were very good, blocked shots, everybody did a good job on the checking side of the game. It was a good hockey game."
"He made one big save, I forget who it was against, maybe Koivu (Mikko) on the one-timer. It was a glove save. We’re in a situation where we have to have everyone playing at the top of their game, and we need a goaltender to give an "A" performance every night. Most of our games that are remaining are on the road and as you know the goaltenders are going to be tested. He’s a young guy who is playing pretty innocent and playing very well for us."
"They actually hit us quite a bit the defense back there. They got some big checks on us. Overall we came in and we knew we had to limit their scoring chances, because they are the best defensive team in the NHL. So we knew we had to play aggressively."
On the Western Conference Playoff chase
"We obviously would have wanted the two points and give them none, but I don’t think we really focused on that. We just really wanted to win that game no matter how we get the win, and would rather get the two points than the zero points. If you went for it with a minute left, or whatever. So, we’re just happy to get those two points, and we have to continue this for the rest of the road trip."
On bouncing back from the SH goal
"Yeah it was. Koivu (Mikko) has a great stick and coming in we knew that. I still messed up with the pass, but yeah it was great that we got back, especially on the power play. The same unit was out after that, and it was good to get that goal back."
MINNESOTA COACH JACQUES LEMAIRE
On the game
"Not exactly, we would prefer a win, but you know that was a hard fought game. You could see the teams are pretty equal. The number of shots, number of scoring chances, it is pretty identical. We needed a break somewhere, even on the shootout. You get a break there you get a win."
On breaks in the game
"That’s what I meant when you get two teams pretty equal then you go on and it’s a break you’ll get that will make the outcome of the game."
On Playing the Kings
"Definitely, we started the game well and we were on the puck, guys were skating, hitting. I thought we played really well. The thing is the offense. They got more power plays than we did. We were lucky to get a goal short-handed. We got to get a goal either on the power play or even strength if you want to win."
On getting one point
"You know what they had some good chances to. I think that Backstrom (Niklas) he saved us a couple times, and of course we had our share of chances to. It was a tight game, and we had a lot of penalties. That’s just how the game went. You know we’re going on the road now for so long. We have 14 road games in March and every point that we can get here now is good, and I think we played pretty well. We played a tight game, and got a lot of penalties in the game so it kind of slowed down. With so many penalties it’s just a tight game."
On the Kings goal
"You know I turned around to take the pass away, and I did, then on my follow through I hit the puck again, and it went off Backstrom’s (Niklas) back and in."