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Kings wrap up trip in Minnesota

by John Kreiser

KINGS (39-27-12) at WILD (32-35-10)

TV: FS-West (HD); FS-North (HD)

Last 10: Los Angeles 8-2-0; Minnesota 4-6-0

Season Series: It's the last of four meetings this season. The Kings have won two of the first three, including a 4-0 victory at the Xcel Energy Center in their last visit on Feb. 28.

Big Story: The Kings are finally playing the way they were expected to play all season. Friday's 4-1 win at Edmonton moved them into first place in the Pacific Division scramble, in which the first four teams are separated by just two points. L.A. will be facing a banged-up Wild team that's still playing hard -- Minnesota scored the tying goal with 30.3 seconds remaining in regulation against Florida on Thursday and won 3-2 in overtime.

Team Scope:

Kings: L.A. is wrapping up a four-game trip in Minnesota after working their way East from Vancouver, where the Kings lost 1-0 on Monday. That was followed by a 3-0 win at Calgary on Wednesday before they shut down the Oilers on Friday, allowing Edmonton to get just 14 shots against Jonathan Quick.

"We got the two points. That's what we want," coach Darryl Sutter said. "All of the games are really important right now. It was a funny first period. They have all that skill over there with those kids and they were wheeling and dealing and we had to make some adjustments to handle them."

Wild: Minnesota has gone from the top of the NHL standings in early December to playing out the string, but that doesn't mean the Wild have stopped playing hard.

"We're playing against teams that are in playoff mode, they're fighting for something every night. We're going to be facing it again on Saturday," coach Mike Yeo said. "I don't know whether our (energy) has dropped or the other teams' has picked up and we haven't picked it up to that level. It's not an easy thing to do to find a reason why your urgency level should match theirs."

Who's Hot: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is 7-2-0 with a 1.42 goals-against average in his last nine starts.

Injury Report: The Kings were without forward Jeff Carter on Friday due to an ankle injury. … Minnesota is missing a number of regulars, including center Matt Cullen (broken finger), defenseman Jared Spurgeon (concussion), forward Matt Kassian (groin) and defenseman Mike Lundin (groin).

Stat Pack: The Kings scored four times on Friday after managing just six goals in their previous four games.

Puck Drop: With four games remaining, the Kings find themselves in control of their own playoff destiny -- a real accomplishment for a team that was perceived as underachievers for much of the season.

Coach Darryl Sutter is not taking anything for granted.

"We got the two points. That's what we want," Sutter said after beating the Oilers. "All of the games are really important right now."

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