In his first five games with Minnesota, Pavol Demitra helped the Wild get off to the best start in franchise history. Now, they'll want to see what he can do away from home.
Demitra makes his return to Los Angeles when the Wild open their road schedule on Wednesday night at Staples Center against the Kings.
In 2005-06 - his only season with the Kings after eight in St. Louis - Demitra missed 34 games with a badly bruised leg, blood in his eye and a concussion. Still, he was second on the team with 25 goals overall and led the club with seven game-winners and five short-handed tallies.
After being acquired in June for prospect Patrick O'Sullivan and a No. 1 draft pick, Demitra has thrived playing alongside countryman Marian Gaborik on the Wild's top line. Demitra has tallied a point all five of Minnesota's games this season, and leads the team with six assists and seven points.
Demitra extended his scoring streak with an assist, Brian Rolston scored twice and Manny Fernandez made 24 saves to lead Minnesota (5-0-0) past Columbus 5-0 on Saturday.
"It's hard to say how good we can be," said Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire, "We'll have to go on the road and play some. At that point I think we'll know a little bit more about our team."
Rolston, who leads Minnesota with four goals and has seven points to tie Demitra for the team scoring lead, said it's too early to think about the postseason.
"You don't win the Stanley Cup in October, or even make the playoffs, but it's a good start," said Rolston, who has only a goal and two assists in 10 career games in Los Angeles.
Gaborik played in only three games versus Los Angeles last season, but had four goals and two assists. Minnesota lost two of those three contests.
Los Angeles (2-4-0), meanwhile, will try to end a three-game losing streak as it wraps up a season-high six-game homestand. Sean Avery scored the lone goal Monday in a 3-1 loss to Detroit.
"I don't think (the Red Wings) dominated us, but they are opportunists and we gave them opportunities," said Kings center Craig Conroy, who has only one assist in six games after tallying 22 goals and 44 assists in 2005-06.
Los Angeles has been limited to one goal in each of its last three losses, while allowing five power-play goals in 19 opportunities over that span.
Backup goaltender Mathieu Garon may get the start in this contest after going 2-0 with a 1.46 goals-against average at Staples Center last season against the Wild.
Center Anze Kopitar has been one of the bright spots for Los Angeles, recording two goals and five assists in six games to lead all rookies in scoring. He's failed to record a goal, though, since scoring twice in a 4-3 loss to Anaheim on Oct. 6.