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Kings aim to rebound in Minnesota

by Davis Harper
KINGS (28-23-12) at WILD (28-25-9)


Last 10: Los Angeles 3-5-2; Minnesota 3-6-1.

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings, and the first to be played at Xcel Energy Center. The teams split the first two, with the Wild winning the most recent encounter, 4-2, on Dec. 8 behind goals from four different Minnesota players.

Big Story: Two teams sitting outside of the playoff picture look to earn a valuable two points when they face off Tuesday night. Los Angeles, in 10th with 68 points, couldn't build on momentum of a 4-0 shutout win against Chicago on Saturday, falling 2-1 in Nashville two nights later. Minnesota, three points back in 12th, have won three of four – including a 4-3 win Sunday against San Jose.
Team Scope:

Kings: With nine of their 13 February games coming away from Staples Center, Los Angeles slipped outside the top eight after some tough results. In a home meeting with Chicago on Saturday, the Kings proved they still have some pop left, destroying the Hawks 4-0 behind a hat trick from Dustin Brown.

Unfortunately, Los Angeles was back on the road Monday to face Nashville in a hostile Bridgestone Arena. Pekka Rinne earned his League-leading 35th win of the season, allowing only one goal in the final minutes to Brown. However, the Kings did show an encouraging sign in peppering Rinne with 30 shots. Coach Darryl Sutter said he was proud of his team's effort.
"Tough building to come into, tough team, good team; we pretty well matched them," Sutter said. "We just didn't bear down and finish our opportunities. We had some great opportunities and didn't finish the job."

Wild: Midway through February, Minnesota were hemorrhaging points during a free fall through the Western Conference in which it lost seven straight – and five of those came in regulation. Since then, the Wild have sutured the wound with wins in three of four, including a 4-3 victory on Sunday night against fellow playoff aspirant San Jose.

"The message before the game was forget standings, forget wins and losses even. Let's get back to playing our game," Wild coach Mike Yeo said.

The Wild certainly did that, using a physical style to push the Sharks off the puck. Down 3-2 late in the game, Minnesota kept fighting, scoring two goals with less than six minutes left to earn the win.
Who's Hot: Brown has 5 goals and 2 assists in his last four games. … Matt Cullen has three goals in four games for Minnesota.

Injury Report: Kevin Westgarth missed Monday's game with a bruised hand. Simon Gagne (concussion) and Scott Parse (hip surgery) are out indefinitely. … Goalie Josh Harding is doubtful for Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury. Mike Lundin (lower body), Mikko Koivu (undisclosed), Clayton Stoner (lower body), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion/groin), Jarod Palmer (upper body) and Guillaume Latendresse (post-concussion symptoms) are all on injured reserve.
Stat Pack: The Kings have recently enjoyed a relative uptick in offense, scoring 10 goals in four games following two straight shutouts and a nearly season-long struggle to find the back of the net. Unfortunately, Jonathan Quick has started conceding goals just as often. After going nine games without conceding more than two goals, Quick has conceded nine goals over three recent games (though he was in net for the 19-save shutout of the Hawks).
Puck Drop: After the San Jose win, Cal Clutterbuck – who scored the first for Minnesota – told reporters of the energy boost brought on by the acquisition of Kurtis Foster, Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux over the previous days.

“We had a little bit of a spark here from some new guys in the room. I think it was a game that was pretty reminiscent of the way we were at the start of the year, so that's a good sign," Clutterbuck said.

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