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Wild-Kings Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Minnesota Wild (29-26-5) at Los Angeles Kings (32-23-5).

TIME: Thursday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

The Olympics have left the Los Angeles Kings at a distinct disadvantage as the team resumes play against the Minnesota Wild.

After suffering injuries in Turin, Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov won't suit up for Los Angeles, leaving the Kings without two-thirds of their top forward unit.

Demitra, who played well for a surprising Slovakia team, suffered facial injuries and bleeding behind an eye when he was struck by a puck. He could return for Saturday's game against Columbus.

Frolov, a member of the Russian team, has a partially separated shoulder that could sideline him for at least 10 days.

Demitra and Frolov flank center Craig Conroy to form the Kings' No. 1 line, and the trio has 50 goals and 101 assists this season.

The Kings have fallen 10 points behind the first-place Dallas in the Pacific Division, due in large part to a seven-game losing streak from Jan. 24-Feb. 8. Los Angeles rebounded to win its last two games before the break by one goal, including a crucial 6-5 comeback victory over the Stars on Feb. 12.

The Kings scored four unanswered goals in the third period, three of which came in the first three minutes by Lubomir Visnovsky, Nathan Dempsey and Luc Robitaille to tie the game. Derek Armstrong scored the winner on a power play at 13:34.

"We knew it was the last period before the Olympic break, so we had to go all out - and we did," Robitaille said. "We just knew we had to keep coming. Sooner or later when that happens, you get rewarded with breaks. I just didn't know if it was going to be today."

The Wild are struggling to keep up in the Western Conference playoff race. Minnesota has dropped three of its last four, with all three defeats coming against Northwest Division rivals Colorado (twice) and Vancouver, teams the Wild are trailing in the West.

Minnesota lost 4-2 to the Avalanche on Tuesday for its second loss to Colorado in four games. The defeat was the Wild's fifth in six contests against the Avs, who are holding down the sixth spot in the conference, nine ahead of the 11th-place Wild.

The Wild outshot Colorado 35-31, but the Avs' David Aebischer improved to 4-0 against them this season, allowing only six goals in those games. He's 9-2-0 against Minnesota.

"We just weren't in sync the whole game," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We weren't playing as well as we did before the break and at times left our defensemen out to dry."

Minnesota's Marian Gaborik, who played on a potent Slovakian line with Demitra and Marian Hossa in Turin, scored his 25th goal Tuesday. He has eight goals in his last nine games.

STANDINGS: Wild - 63 points, 5th place, 10 PB, Northwest Division. Kings - 69 points, 2nd place, 10 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Gaborik, 25 goals; Brian Rolston, 38 assists and 62 points; Derek Boogaard, 133 PIM. Kings - Demitra, 22 goals and 57 points; Visnovsky, 42 assists; Sean Avery, 203 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS : Wild - Power play: 18.0 percent (62 for 344), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 89.5 percent (297 for 332), 1st. Kings - Power play: 15.5 percent (62 for 401), 25th. Penalty killing: 78.0 percent (294 for 377), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Wild - Manny Fernandez (23-10-4, 1 SO, 2.17 GAA); Dwayne Roloson (6-16-1, 1, 3.00). Kings - Mathieu Garon (23-15-3, 2, 3.07); Jason LaBarbera (9-8-2, 3.26).


LAST MEETING: Feb. 7; Wild, 5-1. At St. Paul, Minn., the Wild scored five power-play goals, including two each by Pascal Dupuis and Gaborik.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 12-14-4 on the road; Kings - 19-9-1 at home.

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