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Kings-Wild Preview

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Engaged in a four-team race in perhaps the league's deepest division, the Minnesota Wild realize how precious points are.

They'd prefer to start getting two at a time.

Coming off three straight shootout losses, the Wild will look to win for the first time in nearly two weeks when they host the Los Angeles Kings - the last team they beat - on Saturday.

The Wild (37-26-8) have lost five in a row overall, with the last four coming by one goal and the last three in shootouts.

They haven't won since beating the Kings 2-1 on March 2 and have gone just 3-5-4 in the last 12, but they are within two points of Colorado for the Northwest Division lead and have played one fewer game than the Avalanche.

Minnesota is tied with Calgary for second place, just two points ahead of Vancouver in the league's only division with four 80-point teams.

"You can say the Wild are slipping and all that, but we're not slipping," Minnesota forward Brian Rolston said. "We're right there. We're right where we need to be. We're going to have huge games down the stretch that just have to be won. That's the bottom line."

It looked like the Wild might finally win on Thursday, as they held a 2-0 lead after one period and a 3-2 lead after two against New Jersey. But the Devils tied the game in the third and the Wild couldn't score the winner despite outshooting New Jersey 18-11 in the third period and overtime.

Still, Minnesota scored three goals after managing just two in each of the last five games, and leading scorer Marian Gaborik netted a goal after going four straight games without one.

"It's tough not to get two points, but it's good that we're back playing good hockey," Wild defenseman Brent Burns said. "The last two games, we played good enough, we just have to keep going. If we're playing good hockey, that's what matters."

In the previous game, Minnesota had tied the score on Rolston's goal in the final minute, but the Wild lost 3-2 in a shootout to the San Jose Sharks. They're 1-for-9 on shootout attempts in the last three games.

They may not want to get into a shootout with the Kings (28-38-6), who are 4-2 this season in shootouts, including one in a 4-3 win over Minnesota on Oct. 16. The Wild, though, have won both meetings since that game and are 6-0-1 against Los Angeles over the last two seasons.

The Kings have a league-low 62 points, but they helped Minnesota's cause in the playoff hunt by winning 4-1 in Nashville on Thursday. The Predators are in ninth place in the Western Conference, just four points behind the Wild.

"This is the playoffs for the Kings," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We have been in their situation. There is not a better feeling for a team that is out of the running for the playoffs but to be able to anger or really disrupt a team that is still trying to make it."

Alexander Frolov had two goals for the Kings, who now look to win back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 5-7.

Los Angeles' Erik Ersberg stopped 37 shots Thursday, and the rookie goaltender is 2-2-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average in five starts this month.

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