Not the result the Wild wanted, but Jacques Lemaire was pleased with his team's effort. When teams are evenly matched, he explained, it's whomever gets the breaks. Tonight? LA's Jack Johnson gets credit for a goal that Kim Johnsson knocked into his own net at a bad angle, and Drew Doughty's shootout game-winner came when he actually lost the puck, but it squirted under Niklas Backstrom
Post-game notes are below. The Wild will hold a very optional skate at Parade Ice Garden tomorrow. Less than 10 players are expected on the ice. And I'll start my sleepless nights on the road a couple days early, thanks to a winter weather advisory just given for Thursday, the day we fly out for the 11-day trip.
D Jack Johnson scored a power-play goal and added the shootout game winner and G Jonathan Quick made 23 saves, leading the Los Angeles Kings over the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. G Niklas Backstrom
made 24 saves and RW Antti Miettinen scored a short-handed goal for the Wild, which is 2-0-2 in its last four games. Minnesota wrapped up a stretch of eight-of-10 games at home, and begins a six-game road trip Friday in Calgary. That game is the first of a stretch that sees the Wild play 14-of-17 on the road.
Minnesota is 2-0-2 in its last four games, its first four-game point streak since a 3-0-1 run Dec.31-Jan. 6.
C Mikko Koivu
picked up a short-handed assist, giving him a new career-high with 55 points (16-39=55). His old high was 54 (20-34=54) in 2006-07. Koivu moved into a tie for third on the Wild’s all-time list with eight shorthanded points (4-4=8). Wes Walz (14-7=21) and Antti Laaksonen (5-5=10) are first and second. Koivu has a hand in four (2-2=4) of the team’s six shorthanded points this season. Only Walz (7-2=9 in 2000-01) and Brian Rolston (5-0=5) have more short-handed points in a single season in a Wild sweater.
RW Antti Miettinen scored the Wild’s fourth short-handed goal in the last eight games. Miettinen had no short-handed goals in his first 289 NHL games. He has two in the last eight, with the other coming Feb. 8 against Edmonton. Miettinen, who already has a career-high with 39 points (13-16=29), is two goals off his career-high, set last season with Dallas.
G Niklas Backstrom
made 24 saves. Backstrom is 5-1-2 with a 2.02 GAA and a 929 SV% in his last nine starts. He had one no decision in that span. Backstrom allowed his first shootout goal this season to D Jack Johnson, after stopping his first 13 attempts. He is now 14-of-16 on shootout attempts this season (87.5%)
Kings D Drew Doughty’s power-play goal in the second period snapped a streak of 25 consecutive successful penalty kills by the Wild, dating back to Feb. 11.
The Wild scored its fourth short-handed goal in the last eight games. It had two short-handed tallies in the season’s first 51 games.
Minnesota is 4-1 in shootouts and 2-3 in overtime on the season. Los Angeles is 3-7 in shootouts and 1-2 in overtime.
The Kings have won the first three meetings this season, and have never swept a season series against the Wild. The teams wrap up their season series at STAPLES Center March 7. Los Angeles swept the Wild in a season series at Xcel Energy Center for the first time in team history.
It will be interesting how these two teams play in the third period, with points at a premium getting near the 60-game mark.
Andrew Brunette goes for interference, setting up the Kings' fifth power play. Worse yet, the penalty was in the Kings zone, so the faceoff goes all the way back in front of Niklas Backstrom
A couple good chances out of the box by Brunette, and then Clutterbuck levels Kyle Calder.
Great glove save by Backstrom on Derek Armstrong after a Derek Boogaard turnover led the Kings on a 2-on-0.
Not a lot of great scoring chances either one. The PR jinx is famous, but I can see this one finishing a "three-point" game, meaning overtime or a shootout.End of regulation
That does it for regulation. I'll be back post-game.
We're underway in the second. A star-studded night in the Al Shaver Press Box. Brian Burke is in town, scouting for Team USA (and not the Maple Leafs). Jarri Kurri, former NHL star, is in town scouting for Team Finland.
Matt Greene gets called for interference, setting up the Wild's second power play.
Nice kick save by Backstrom on Edward Purcell, but Stephane Veilleux
will go to the box after he backhanded the puck out of harm's way - and into the stands.
But it's instead the Wild that strikes for a 1-0 lead. Mikko Koivu intercepts a pass and races up ice 2-on-1 with Antti Miettinen. Koivu waits for the D to commit, passes the puck to Miettnen, who dekes Quick out of the net before sliding the puck across the goal line. A month ago, Miettinen had never scored a shorthanded goal. He has two in February.
This game is really moving along as I look up some notes on shorthanded points in Wild history. You'll have to check back post-game for that info. I believe we are still waiting for the 14-minute TV timeout.
Peter Olvecky gets called for hooking, and the Kings go on their fourth power play.
And the PK streak won't reach six games. Kim Johnsson tips the puck into his own net, after Backstrom made the save on Drew Doughty. The puck went off Johnson, hit Backstrom and the post and went into the net. It will go down as Doughty's fifth goal in this, his rookie season. Game tied 1-1.
Matt Greene goes for hooking, and the Wild (0-for-2 on the power play) goes on the man advantage.
Awesome glove save by Quick, robbing Bouchard. He didn't catch the puck, but got enough of it to deflect it overthe net.
End 2nd period
A frantic final minute in the Wild's end, but it escapes. Tied 1-1 headed to the third.
The top lines on each team will match up to start, as the Wild throw Brunette, Koivu and Miettinen up front with Schultz and Johnsson at the blueline, across from Anze Kopitar, Patrick O'Sullivan and Alexander Frolov. It's Jonathan Quick in net for the Kings, opposite Niklas Backstrom
The Wild's fourth line of Boogaard, Olvecky and Weller just had the Kings pinned deep for more than a minute. No shots thus far for Minnesota, but it's energy is really good.
More good pressure by the Wild. Cal Clutterbuck
got tossed into the corner by Kyle Quincey as Quick was covering up the puck.
Clutterbuck with his first big hit of the game, leveling Matt Greene against the boards. Clutterbuck's clean hit lastweek on Calgary's Mark Giordano knocked the Flames defenseman likely out for the year due to shoulder surgery.
I need to give a shoutout to all the Houston Aeros fans at tonight's watch party at the Maple Leaf Pub. I'm amazed the MLP did not go out of business after I left town. At the very least, they probably had to raise the prices.
The Wild gets the game's first power play, as Raitis Ivanans (two goals, 113 PIM) goes for roughing Dan Fritsche. Ivanans had a nice fight with Derek Boogaard last month.
A couple good chances on the man advantage. First, Quick stopped Miettinen's shot through a screen. And he just covered up the rebound on Brent Burns' point blast, with Dan Fritsche whacking away at the puck in front.
Fritsche just beat out an icing call, the second hustle play to do that by the Wild so far. Derek Boogaard prevented the stoppage earlier on. We haven't had a whistle since the power play.
The crowd responds for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who outright robs Mikko Koivu
's right point one-time blast.
The Wild's penalty kill unit, perfect in the last five games, gets its first chance here when Mikko Koivu
trips Derek Armstrong.
Minnesota right back on the PK, after getting rid of the first man advantage. Eric Belanger goes for tripping. The good news for the Wild is that A)Koivu is rested for the PK after being in the box and B)it can rest some defensemen because the final TV timeout came very late.
End 1st period
Teams are scoreless after one, with LA outshooting the Wild 8-6. Minnesota will have 47 seconds on the PK to begin the second period.
For the Kings, scratches are Oscar Moller, Denis Gauthier (NHL suspension) and Dustin Brown, whose wife is giving birth to their second child. The Wild scratches are Owen Nolan (broken toe), Colton Gillies and Kurtis Foster
We're just about set for tonight's Let's Play Hockey, which will come from former Gophers and NBA star Trent Tucker. Also scheduled to be in the press box tonight is PGA golfer Tim Herron, who has a residence in the Twin Cities.
Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. CST
Tonight is the State of Hockey’s last chance to see the Wild live for the next 13 days, as the Wild leaves Thursday for a six-game, 11-day trip. Tonight’s opponent, Los Angeles, is kicking off a five-game road trip.
Jacques Lemaire stressed to the media this morning that the Kings will want to get their trip off to a good start, especially because they finish off a back-to-back in Philadelphia tomorrow. Meanwhile, Lemaire said it’s important to his Wild team to keep building on its confidence level after the big sweep of Detroit and Chicago before heading out for 14 of 17 on the road.
Andrew Brunette will play tonight, ending his two-game injury absence. Owen Nolan (broken toe) was at the rink this morning but did not skate; he will miss tonight’s game. Also out are Colton Gillies and Kurtis Foster
, who has been cleared for NHL action and said he will patiently await his chance. The Wild has played the same six defensemen when all are healthy for the entire season.Niklas Backstrom
will start in net for the Wild. Lemaire said that Josh Harding
’s 44-save performance Sunday in Chicago was huge for a lot of reasons, and gives him more confidence in his backup goaltender heading into this road trip. Backstrom’s numbers in the second half of back-to-backs are not great, plus he has been pulled in each of his last four starts in Edmonton, where the Wild finishes a back-to-back Saturday.
Kings captain Dustin Brown, whose hits record Cal Clutterbuck
is chasing, will miss tonight’s game to be with his wife, who is giving birth to the couple’s second child. But the Kings still have plenty of firepower, mainly Anze Kopitar and Patrick O’Sullivan. Clutterbuck, by the way, caught me with a (rather small) bite of chocolate cupcake this morning and fired something at me like “That’s where the cupcakes go.”
I’ll be spending the rest of the day pulling together itineraries, manifests and rooming lists for the 11-day trip. It will be long but fun. A group of season ticketholders will be in Calgary and Edmonton. Wild corporate sponsors are going to San Jose. And, with Los Angeles and Anaheim March 7-8, well, there's no better way to end a trip than in Southern California.
Tonight’s press meal:
Potato leek soup
linguini with shrimp and marinara
beef and chicken satay
vegetable fried rice
stir fried veg