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Reeling Kings head to Minnesota

by Brian Compton
KINGS (42-26-6) at WILD (36-33-6)

Last 10: Los Angeles 4-4-2; Minnesota 5-5-0.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Los Angeles has won two of the first three, including a 5-2 decision at Minnesota on New Year's Eve.

Big Story: The Kings are struggling, as they enter Monday's action having lost three straight games. It's important they finish strong before the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when they're bound to face one of the top three teams in the Western Conference.

Of course, the Kings -- who have 90 points -- need to clinch a playoff spot first.

Team Scope:

Kings: Los Angeles, which hasn't made the playoffs since 2002, has scored only five goals during this slump. The Kings, who allowed four power-play goals in a 4-1 loss on home ice to the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, are just 5-6-2 since the Olympic break.

"We need urgency from every aspect of this team. Coaches, players, trainers, we all need to get that mindset," captain Dustin Brown said. "Ultimately, it lies on the players, and that's the most important thing, but as a group, a team, here, everyone involved, we all need to have the mentality, that urgency, and we haven't had it. Again, that's unacceptable."

Wild: It's all but a certainty that Minnesota will miss the playoffs for a second straight season. The Wild have lost four of their last six games, including Friday's 6-2 loss at Detroit, which scored four times in the second period.

"We unraveled in the second period," coach Todd Richards said.

Who's Hot: Kings forward Anze Kopitar has 76 points this season, one shy of his career high set in 2007-08. … Wild forward Andrew Brunette has three goals in his last four games.

Injury Report: Kings defenseman Matt Greene (upper body) is day-to-day. … For the Wild, Mikko Koivu (arm), Chuck Kobasew (knee), Josh Harding (hip), Cam Barker (ankle), and Shane Hnidy (leg) are all questionable. Clayton Stoner (sports hernia) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) are out.

Stat Pack: After a streak of 29 consecutive killed penalties, the Kings are 9-for-15 on the penalty kill in their last three games, all losses. 

Puck Drop: "Everyone wants to go into the playoffs winning, but this is, sometimes, a part of the season. I think we didn't come out of the Olympic break so great, but we've played, to my count, about four pretty good games in a row leading up to this one. We're not happy about tonight, but I think the best thing for us is that we get right on the road tomorrow and we play two games right in a row. I think the best thing for us will be playing hockey immediately." -- Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi after Saturday's loss to Dallas

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