Considering the NHL-point system, a team can go from a slump to a streak quicker than a Raitis Ivanans punch to the head (as Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard can attest after his third period bout with Large Latvian). What was a four-game losing streak for the Los Angeles Kings has quickly morphed into three-out-of-a-possible-four points thus far on a three-game road trip.
The Kings have a chance to carry that momentum further tomorrow night in Colorado, their last contest before the All-Star Break.
"Let’s hope so," said defenseman Matt Greene, who assisted on Derek Armstrong’s third-period goal and blocked a game-high five shots. "We’ve got to get something going and get on a roll here. Everybody else is winning and we’ve just got to keep getting points so we can stay in the hunt here."
The Kings had mustered four goals combined in their previous four games, so a relative offensive outburst of five goals was a bit of a surprise coming against the best defensive team in the National Hockey League and an All-Star goaltender in Niklas Backstrom.
"We worked hard at trying to generate something in the offensive part of the game," Greene said. "We know that Minnesota played last night in Chicago. We talked about that in our pregame, and we wanted to take advantage of it if possible. I thought we came out with good energy, good shifts and trying to get a forecheck game established.
"With Minnesota playing last night, we really wanted to get the jump on them after having three good days here to rest and wait for them to get back from Chicago. To benefit from that is always good."
With Erik Ersberg sitting out due to a lower body injury, goaltender Jonathan Quick got the starting nod for his 12th appearance in the last 14 games. Quick improved to 5-5 in that span after a 25-save effort.
"We played a great game," Quick said. "We were out-shooting them two-to-one. The first two periods, when we jumped out to a two-goal lead, it made it easier for the defense and for me. The team did a great job all game."
While his official bio lists his birthplace as Arlington Heights, Illinois, Tom Preissing is considered a local boy in Minnesota, where he played his high school hockey for the Rosemount Irish. Preissing still has many family members and friends in the area, which makes his latest healthy scratch all the more disappointing, considering it is the first time he has visited the Xcel Energy Center and not been in the lineup.
"It’s tough to sit out here, but I guess the bright side is I didn’t have to buy a bunch of tickets," joked Preissing. "All I can do is keep working hard and hopefully get back in the lineup."
Preissing and the Kings have withstood the frigid Minnesota temps since Monday. While Preissing enjoys coming home, he doesn’t mind the fact that his stay is temporary.
"Dealing with these temperatures is a lot easier knowing you’re going back to L.A. in a couple days."
Defenseman Denis Gauthier was the club’s other healthy scratch.
In a change, the Kings donned their home black sweaters for the second consecutive road game, while the Wild wore white. The reasoning was the Dallas Stars’ request to wear their road whites during Saturday night’s tilt in Texas. As a result, the Kings’ request to wear their blacks for the entirety of their three-game road trip was granted.
WESTGARTH MAKES HIS DEBUT
Kevin Westgarth made his NHL debut, registering 4:39 of ice time and posting one hit, and one blocked shot.
Despite finishing with 32 shots on goal, it took the Kings 7:49 to register their first shot on goal. By the end of the first period, Los Angeles led in shots, 13-8…With a goal and an assist, Kyle Calder posted his first two-point game of the season. His first period goal snapped an 11-game goal-less drought…The Kings improved to 4-1-0 on Inauguration Day…The Kings won a regulation game in Xcel Energy Center for the first time since February 10, 2004.
KINGS COACH TERRY MURRAY
On getting secondary scoring
“The goal by Armstrong (Derek Armstrong) was a huge goal. It’s three to two, they just scored, we came back out. When you get a goal from your fourth line, that’s a pretty important goal. That secondary scoring, that’s something we have been looking for, and maybe are still searching for. It’s a very timely situation for us.”
On the Kings play
“The intensity, the compete level, their work ethic is much better. It’s more of a team effort. This is the way we have played most of the year. I really liked most of the situations, most of the games we’ve been in this year.”
On generating offensive chances
“Well, we worked hard to generate on the offensive part of the game. We know that Minnesota played last night in Chicago. We talked about that in our pre-game. We wanted to take advantage of that if possible. And I thought we came out in the first period with some pretty good energy and some good shifts.”
KINGS DEFENSEMAN MATT GREENE
On the power play
“Yeah, I think so. It was a big boost for us where we got a couple goals on special teams. It’s going to help us big time. Our power play did a good job for us tonight.”
On Kings agressive play
“Yeah, obviously with Minnesota playing last night, you really want to get the jump on them. We had a couple good days of rest here. Kind of waiting for them to get back from Chicago. Any time you can do that, it’s always good.”
On staying in the playoff hunt
“Let’s hope so. We’ve got to get some momentum going and get on a roll, every body else is winning, and we’ve just got to get some points and stay in the hunt.”
MINNESOTA COACH JACQUES LEMAIRE
On Andrew Brunette
“We have to give Bruno the puck more. We’re talking about how hard he’s playing. He’s got to get the puck more. We have to get him the puck in the offensive zone, because he’s good at finding the open player.”
On the team's play
“We played like it’s a last division team. Look at their scorers, there’s a few guys that have some goals, but not a lot more than we do. You look at their points, and you look at the standings, you look at all this, and you say, ‘oh we’ll be ok’. But this is a team that plays hard, desperate. They came to play a real solid game. A physical game. We started to play physical in the third, that’s how we should have started.”
“It’s hard to find out all the time, what seems to be the problem when the guys are not skating. Sometimes you can say it was our game last night. But how come after the game last night, and the way we played the first two periods, we play well in the third. So we can’t use last nights game as an excuse.”
“Bad passes, turnovers first and second period, especially from our defensemen. We were slow to get the puck. When your slow to the puck, you come together at the same time. It’s hard when you have your nose in the glass to try and make a play. That’s hard.”
GOALTENDER NIKLAS BACKSTROM
On tonight's game
“It’s a tough loss for us. I don’t know what happened from yesterday. We were not ready today. Every game is going to be tight. We have to rest now, and when the break is over, we have to play well every night. Try and play our best game every night. We need every point. We’re disappointed how it ended tonight.”
On team's play
“I don’t know if it was tired legs. I think our game was not there. I don’t know how it can be completely different from yesterday. We can’t play like this at home. We have to play better. Find a way to win, and today we did not do that.”
DEFENSEMAN MARTIN SKOULA
On the Wild power play
“They could have called a couple more. Still, it’s not an excuse. We still have to play. We have to work hard five on five. Everybody is supposed to be ready. You can’t have an excuse for not working hard.”