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Wild set to face Kings without Koivu

by Jon Lane

WILD (22-17-5) vs. KINGS (26-13-4)


Last 10: Minnesota 4-6-0; Los Angeles 4-6-0

Season Series: The Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings play the second of three games. Jonathan Quick made 27 saves, and two in the shootout, in the Kings' 3-2 win against the Wild on Oct. 3.

Big Story: The Wild play the next two games and three of the next four on the road, a stretch that got harder when captain Mikko Koivu had surgery Monday morning to repair a broken ankle sustained Saturday against the Washington Capitals.

Koivu, the Wild's points leader with 35 (eight goals, 27 assists), is expected to miss approximately four weeks. Despite the injury, Koivu played most of the game Saturday and had two assists in 42 seconds.

"If there's any question about his character or how high his competitive level is, I think this incident certainly should answer that," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher told reporters before practice Monday. "He came back, and the only reason why he left the bench is [coach] Mike [Yeo] asked him to leave the bench [late in the game] because he saw [Koivu] laboring, he saw [Koivu] in pain, but Mikko wanted to stay and play. He's a tough competitor, he's clearly one of our best players, he's our leader for a reason. It's a big blow."

Team Scope:

Wild: In Koivu's absence, Charlie Coyle skated between Dany Heatley and Jason Pominville on the Wild's top line during practice Monday. Erik Haula recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League, was on the third line between Matt Cooke and Justin Fontaine.

"We discussed a lot of options and scenarios. Hopefully, we don't see some of them," Yeo said Monday. "We decided let’s try to keep most of the lineup the same as we can. It's going to be a bit of a splash, but let's limit the ripple."

Kings: Bolstered by the return of Quick, the Kings play the second of a five-game homestand after ending a five-game winless streak Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks. Before Quick's 27 saves sparked the Kings to victory, they had allowed at least three goals in four of their prior five games.

Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford was impressed with Quick's performance, but admitted a day off Sunday was a challenge.

"Probably the worst thing that could have happened was having the day off," Ranford told L.A. Kings Insider on Monday. "So he had to kind of gut through it today."

Who's hot: Wild defenseman Ryan Suter was awarded the League's Third Star of the Week after scoring four goals with two assists and a plus-6 rating. Off his first career hat trick Saturday, he is riding a four-game point streak (five goals, two assists) with points in 11 of his past 12 (5-9-14) … Kings forward Jeff Carter has eight goals in his past 12 games.

Injury report: The Wild placed Koivu and goalie Josh Harding (illness) on injured reserve Monday. They join defenseman Jared Spurgeon (lower body) and forward Zach Parise (broken foot), though Fletcher said Parise may begin skating later this week. … The Kings have no reported injuries.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNHL

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