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Jones, Kings shut out Wild for rare road win

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Los Angeles Kings had plenty to be thankful for Wednesday, including four first-period goals, a shutout, and a rare road victory in a 4-0 win against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, Tyler Toffoli and Justin Williams scored for the Kings, who won for the second time in 10 road games this season. The loss was Minnesota’s second in nine home games.

“It’s nice to finish the trip with a win. It’s good to get a win in this building,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “I said it yesterday, I don’t look at the record on the road. We had four overtime or shootout games in there. It all comes around.”

Goalie Martin Jones, starting for the second game in a row, made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and fifth of his NHL career.

“That was better than we’ve started on the road in a long time,” Brown said.

Dwight King’s snap shot from the right faceoff circle was tipped on its way to the net by Richards at 4:21. The goal was Richards’ fourth.

Less than nine minutes later, Brown capped a 2-on-1 break with a shot that snuck through Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s five-hole for his fourth goal.

Minnesota offered up a number of turnovers that Los Angeles was able to exploit in the first period. The Kings lauded their play along their blue line, quickly transitioning from defense to offense and taking advantage of their rush opportunities.

“We gave up about 15 odd-man rushes in the first period and they capitalized on them,” Wild forward Zach Parise said. “It got away from us after that.”

Toffoli’s goal also capped a 2-on-1 when the forward worked around an aggressive Kuemper. With the goaltender 3 feet out of his crease to take away the angle, Toffoli used a forehand-backhand move to sneak the puck inside the left post for his ninth of the season.

Williams' goal came on a shot from the slot with 10 seconds remaining in the period and was the final shot Kuemper faced; Niklas Backstrom replaced him for the final two periods.

“Part of it was how we defended our blue line and part of it was a couple mistakes on their part, not getting it by our blue line,” Brown said. “It allowed us to get those odd-man rushes and we beared down on our chances and got what we needed on those prime opportunities.”

Kuemper made six saves and was pulled for the second time this season. Backstrom stopped 12 shots.

“I felt good this morning, felt good in warm-ups. Just one of those nights where it doesn’t go your way,” Kuemper said. “It’s not easy, I was trying to battle for the team and it didn’t really come together tonight. It happens, you just have to move forward from it.”

Wild coach Mike Yeo said he could tell something was off in Kuemper’s game.

“Obviously I regret not [making a goalie change] now. Even after the third goal, I thought, ‘OK, there’s 1:30 [left]. Let's give [Backstrom] a chance to get a bit of a stretch between periods.’ I thought we could get through that,” Yeo said. “The list of regrets I have is very long, but by the same token, we’ve pulled our goalies twice in this building. We’ve pulled [Kuemper] after two goals, so at some point, you have to battle through that stuff too.”

Jones, who started Tuesday in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators, made 10 saves in each of the first two periods and added seven in the third for his first shutout since making 17 saves April 10 against the Edmonton Oilers.

Los Angeles is 2-2-0 on the second half of back-to-back games. The home defeat was the first for Minnesota since a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 4.

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