Thanks to the only All-Star on their roster, the Minnesota Wild are looking to head into the All-Star break with plenty of momentum.
Goalie Niklas Backstrom looks to turn in another stellar effort Tuesday night when the Wild try to hand the Los Angeles Kings a fifth straight loss.
Minnesota (23-19-3) is in contention for a third straight playoff berth thanks to Backstrom, who is among the league leaders in all major categories for goaltenders. The All-Star was at his best Monday, in an environment where very few visiting goalies have succeeded.
Backstrom made 40 saves, including several shots from close range as the Wild won 4-1 to hand Chicago just its second regulation loss at the United Center.
"We were just able to play our game and that's huge," Backstrom said. "We got lucky and we got the bounces. Usually, though, to get the bounces you have to work hard."
Defenseman Marek Zidlicky had two power-play goals and an assist while Cal Clutterbuck added an empty-net goal - his third goal in four games. Owen Nolan and Andrew Brunette each had two assists for Minnesota.
The Wild have won four straight home games against the Kings, who have two contests left before the break as they conclude a dismal first half.
After losing three straight times in regulation, Los Angeles (17-20-7) finally earned a point in a 3-2 shootout loss at Dallas on Saturday - the opener of their three-game road trip. Alexander Frolov scored the tying goal with 16.9 seconds left in regulation.
"There is such a thing as a good point," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. "We were playing with a little less confidence. We were more assertive and more aggressive."
Dustin Brown also scored for Los Angeles, which has been outscored 15-4 during its four-game losing streak. The Kings managed only 22 shots Saturday - their lowest total of the skid.
"It's a better result," Brown said of salvaging one point. "But I don't think it was the result we wanted."
The Kings have failed to convert on 24 straight power-play opportunities over the last four games. They spent a portion of their practice Monday working on correcting those woes.
"We're getting chances, so I think we should just stay with it," said defenseman Kyle Quincey, who has 14 power-play assists this season. "It's nowhere near time to panic."
Goaltender Erik Ersberg remained winless in four starts since beating Backstrom and Minnesota 3-1 in Los Angeles on Dec. 13. Ersberg made 33 saves in that contest.
"We played with more heart today so that's something to build on," Ersberg said after making 32 saves Saturday.
The Kings got a pair of injured defensemen back Saturday. Drew Doughty (bruised right thigh) returned from a one-game absence and Jack Johnson (shoulder) played for the first time since Oct. 12.