It took longer than they probably would have liked, but the Los Angeles Kings
secured sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division on Monday night.
Michal Handzus scored the game-winner in the fifth round of a shootout as the Kings earned a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild
at the Xcel Energy Center.
and Jarrett Stoll also scored in the shootout and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick
stopped Antti Miettinen in the fifth round to win it.
Kopitar had a goal and assist in regulation for Los Angeles, which won for the fifth time in six games. Stoll added a power-play goal and Jack Johnson
had two assists and logged 29:26 of ice time. Quick stopped 20 shots in the victory.
"It's a tough building to come into. The crowd's always into it and it a good atmosphere," Quick said. "They're a solid defensive team that never gives up too many opportunities and their power play's been solid thus far. It's a great two points on the road."
John Madden and Nick Schultz
scored for the Wild. Niklas Backstrom
made 32 saves for Minnesota.
-- the Kings' leading goal scorer -- was given a major penalty and a game misconduct after a blow to the head of Miettinen in the second period.
Miettinen was attempting a shot in the slot when Brown came through, lowering his shoulder and connecting with Miettinen's head and shoulder. Minnesota put four shots on goal on the ensuing five-minute advantage, but came up empty. After scoring 12 times on their first 27 power-play opportunities this season, the Wild are 0-for-8 in their past two games.
The Kings' penalty killing allowed time for the offense to find its rhythm and the Wild provided Los Angeles plenty of power-play opportunities.
"We took too many penalties and it was a theme of the short season so far. Even if a team doesn't score, they're able to get momentum on it," Madden said. "Timing's everything and we get a five-minute power play and go up 3-1, it's a different hockey game."
Stoll connected for his third of the season on the power play near the end of first period. Kopitar scored on a 5-on-3 advantage with 18 seconds remaining in the second.
"They put us on our heels," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "The first two penalty kills, I thought we did a pretty good job as far as killing the power-play opportunities. But you can't keep giving a good team opportunities."
With less than two minutes remaining in the second, the Kings had an open net as Backstrom tripped after colliding with defenseman Marek Zidlicky
. As Ryan Smyth fired the shot, Guillaume Latendresse
slid across and managed to deflect Smyth's shot.
However, Los Angeles scored on its next chance. Mikko Koivu
was assessed a hooking penalty and Kopitar scored just 6 seconds into the two-man advantage, firing a rebound past Backstrom.
"The start wasn't the best there," Kopitar said. "But it doesn't matter … two points are two points at the end of the day. Too bad it came in a shootout and not in regulation, but whatever it is, we'll take the two points."
The Kings entered the game just 3 for 27 on the power play this season, but converted two of their seven chances against Minnesota.
"The part that has been troubling for us has been recovering pucks and having a shot mentality," L.A. coach Terry Murray said. "I thought we started to get more to that tonight. When you get a 5-on-3, I wish we did in 5-on-4s what we did in 5-on-3, an automatic shot, there is no hesitation on it."
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.