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Wild have chance to move into playoff spot

Minnesota hosts Los Angeles one point back in wild-card standings

by Dan Myers / NHL.com Correspondent

KINGS (44-23-5) at WILD (34-28-11)

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild will play the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday, hoping to keep pace in the race for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

The Wild begin the day Tuesday one point behind the Colorado Avalanche for the final postseason spot, each team having played 73 games. Colorado doesn't play again until Thursday, when it returns home from a four-game road trip to host the Philadelphia Flyers.

"You always know what's going on, I think, but you can't get too caught up in that," Wild forward Charlie Coyle said. "We have to focus on our 'A' game because if we don't win, what happens in the standings doesn't matter."

Minnesota will play at Colorado on Saturday but has two important games prior to then, each at Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild have won three times in their past 14 games.

The Kings come to Minnesota playing well; their 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday ended a four-game winning streak. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said focusing on the task at hand is more important that watching the standings.

"We're all aware of it, looking at the standings each night, we know it's us against Colorado," Dumba said. "There's a bunch of big games in front of us, but we have to take them one game at a time."

The Kings scrapped their morning skate after arriving in the Twin Cities at 1 a.m. local time from Nashville. The game against the Wild will be Los Angeles' seventh in 11 nights and second back-to-back during that stretch.

"You just can't use it as an excuse," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "You keep your top end as fresh as you can. They're the guys who ultimately drive the bus.

"But what you need when you get into a big stretch of games is for your foot soldiers to really get in line and do some digging. For them to have a good game, it's as important as your stars."

Sutter said he thought the Kings played well enough to win on Monday.

"We didn't win. That's the way it goes," Sutter said.

Sutter would not reveal his starting goaltender. Jonathan Quick started against the Predators but was pulled at the start of the third period after allowing three goals in a span of 7:44 of the second.

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk will start for Minnesota. Darcy Kuemper, who has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury, will serve as his backup. The Wild reassigned goaltender Steve Michalek to Iowa of the American Hockey League.

Here are the projected lineups:

KINGS
Milan Lucic - Anze Kopitar - Tyler Toffoli
Kyle Clifford - Jeff Carter - Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson - Vincent Lecavalier - Trevor Lewis
Dwight King - Nick Shore - Andy Andreoff

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez - Luke Schenn
Brayden McNabb - Rob Scuderi

Jonathan Quick
Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Matt Greene (shoulder), Marian Gaborik (knee), Jordan Nolan (back), Kris Versteeg (undisclosed)
Scratched: Jamie McBain

WILD
Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - David Jones
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine
Chris Porter - Jarret Stoll - Jordan Schroeder

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin
Mike Reilly - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk
Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Ryan Carter (upper body), Jason Pominville (lower body)
Scratched: Nate Prosser, Thomas Vanek

Status report: Pominville skated with the Wild on Tuesday and is expected to take part in a full practice on Wednesday. If all goes well, he could return to the lineup against the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

Who's hot: Kopitar extended his point streak to six games with two assists against the Predators. Kopitar has four goals and five assists during the streak. … Haula has a point in five consecutive games, scoring two goals and three assists in that span.

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