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Wild hand Kings third straight loss

by Brian Compton
Make it three straight games without any points for the reeling Los Angeles Kings.

Shortly after the Kings failed to covert on a two-minute, two-man advantage, Martin Havlat broke a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal 7:38 into the third period as the Minnesota Wild handed Los Angeles a 3-2 loss at the Xcel Energy Center on Monday night.

The Kings are now 0-3-1 in their last four games and just 2-5-2 since March 10. Los Angeles, which is just five points ahead of the ninth-place Calgary Flames in the Western Conference, heads to Nashville to face the Predators on Tuesday.

"On Havlat's goal we made a wrong decision with too many guys chasing the puck carrier as he entered the zone, and you got late people coming in for the drop pass," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "It wasn't a great play by Minnesota, it was more a breakdown on our part."

Owen Nolan and Brent Burns also scored for Minnesota, which is nine points out of a playoff spot with six games left. The Wild went 2-for-3 on the power play just two nights after the Dallas Stars scored four times with the man advantage in Los Angeles.

"They're a proud group, and it starts with the leaders … the way that they show up every night, and the other guys follow," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "At this stage, you're still playing and hoping. But that's what we have to do. The players are constantly evaluated. They're always being watched."

After a scoreless first period, Nolan gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead just 79 seconds into the second. With Ryan Smyth in the box for hooking, Nolan backhanded a rebound past Jonathan Quick (17 saves) to give the Wild a power-play goal in five straight games.

"We were up for the challenge and we were ready to compete ourselves," Nolan said. "We all chipped in, and that's the way our team has to play in order to win."

Burns doubled Minnesota's lead during a 4-on-4 situation at 7:26 when he took a pass from Mikko Koivu and ripped a shot from the left circle past Quick for his first tally in 29 games.
"We've always had trouble against them, so it's good to get the points against them," Burns said. "It's big for our team."

Los Angeles responded with a pair of goals from winger Scott Parse. He cut the deficit in half at 12:47 of the second when his blast from the blue line went off Wild forward Casey Wellman and past Niklas Backstrom (29 saves) to make it 2-1.

Parse then tied the game 1:25 into the third period, as he one-timed Brad Richardson's feed past Backstrom for his 10th goal of the season.

The Kings went 0-for-5 on the power play and are 2-for-18 in their last three games.

"I thought we had a good attitude all game, even after they killed off that 5-on-3," captain Dustin Brown said. "Our belief on the bench, with a minute left, was, 'We're going to tie this game.' So I think it's a step in the right direction, along with our work ethic. We didn't make the best plays out there sometimes, but I guess the best way to put it, not just tonight but in general, is that I can live with 100-percent effort and mistakes, compared to no effort and no mistakes. Sometimes you've got to lose some games that you're supposed to win. Right now, we've got to forget about it."

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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