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Kings look to reverse recent slide against stingy Wild

by Adam Kimelman
WILD (8-4-3) at KINGS (7-6-3)

TV: FS-N (HD), FS-WI (HD), FS-W (HD)

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

Season series:
This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season. They split four games last season, three of which went to overtime or a shootout.

Big Story: The Wild hope to get back on a winning path after their five-game win streak was snapped Thursday, while the Kings hope to reverse a slide that has seen them win just once in their last seven games.

Team Scope:

The Wild are 21st in the League in penalty minutes per game. It hasn't helped their penalty killing, which slipped to 15th in the League at 82.1 percent following Thursday's 3-1 loss to the San Jose, during which the Sharks went 2-for-5 on the power play.

"If you keep taking penalties and giving them chances, eventually they are going to score," Dany Heatley told the Wild's website. "They have a good power play over there and they made us pay a couple of times."

Coach Mike Yeo told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he felt like his team was playing a game of chance by handing the opposition so many extra-man opportunities. They had given Calgary seven power plays Tuesday, but killed them all in a 3-0 victory. But the Flames' power play ranks in the bottom-third of the League, while the Sharks' man-advantage unit now is ranked sixth.

"They scored two power-play goals, and that was the difference," goalie Niklas Backstrom told the team's website.

Drew Doughty went 10 games without a goal, but after scoring Thursday he now has goals in two straight games, and with 5 points in his last three games finally might have found his offensive stride.

Unfortunately, his goal was the only one Los Angeles scored in Thursday's loss for nearly 59 minutes.

The Kings have scored just 14 goals in their last seven games, and have gone 1-4-2 in that stretch.

"The bulk of the season is coming up here," forward Justin Williams told the Los Angeles Times. "Huge, important parts of the season are coming up here. The offense, certainly myself at the top of the list, should be scoring more, getting to the net."

Coach Terry Murray shook things up by adding Trent Hunter and Colin Fraser to the lineup, but the result wasn't enough. However, the players are staying positive, relying on the fact that the players in their lineup have put up big points in the past.

"We're getting chances. It's just not going in for us," defenseman Matt Greene told the Times. "We're getting our chances. It's going to come."

Who's Hot:
Wild goaltenders Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding have been outstanding, allowing six goals in Minnesota's six games, with three of them coming in Thursday's loss to San Jose. … Kings center Anze Kopitar has 6 points in his last four games, and that hot streak could continue against the Wild. He had 2 goals and 4 assists in three games against Minnesota last season, and has 15 points in 20 career games against the Wild.

Injury Report:
Wild forward Guillaume Latendresse is out indefinitely with a concussion suffered in Thursday's game against San Jose. … Kings forward Scott Parse is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

Stat Pack:
The Wild are second in the League at 1.87 goals-against per game. They've allowed more than three goals in regulation just four times in their first 15 games.

Puck Drop:
Murray will coach his 1,000th NHL game Saturday, but downplayed the milestone.

"It's just part of the business when you've been around for a while," he told reporters. "It's a bit of a milestone in the League when you're a player and I suppose it is from the coaching side of it. But the most important thing is the game and the players play the game, and that's where the focus needs to be."

Murray might not want to talk about it, but others who have known him are happy for him.

"It's a fabulous accomplishment," said Predators GM David Poile, who gave Murray his first NHL coaching job in 1989, when the pair worked in Washington. "I think longevity in professional sports for any coach, to me, means they must be good, they must be successful. They got to be good coaches to last this long."

"One thing that Terry has done is that he's always had a lot of structure,” said Predators coach Barry Trotz, who coached Washington's minor-league affiliate, the Baltimore Skipjacks, during Murray’s tenure. "He's always grown with the game. His teams are always well prepared and he's a good teacher. I worked with Terry in Washington. His record speaks for itself. He's always had teams that were playoff teams, teams that could challenge for a division or a (Stanley) Cup. He's just a good hockey guy."

Murray has a record of 493-377, with 89 ties and 40 overtime losses in 999 games.

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