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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Los Angeles

Homestand continues Tuesday as Kings come to St. Paul to play first of consecutive games this week

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /
The essentials

Who: Los Angeles Kings (2-2-2) at Minnesota Wild (4-2-0)

Puck drop: 7:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports App

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild, @mnwildscribe; GameCenter

The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling

ST. PAUL -- The Wild continues its six-game homestand on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center, and for the first time, will play an opponent it has already completed a two-game miniseries against, the Los Angeles Kings.

Minnesota won both ends of a doubleheader at Staples Center earlier this month, recovering twice from 3-1 third-period deficits to secure 4-3 overtime victories.

In the season opener on Jan. 14, Victor Rask and Marcus Foligno scored in the third period before Kirill Kaprizov forced a turnover at neutral ice and scored on a breakaway in the extra session to earn the Wild the extra point.

Two nights later, it was Matt Dumba's deflection of a Ryan Suter shot in the final seconds of regulation that forced overtime, where Kaprizov found Marcus Johansson for a one-timer that eluded Jonathan Quick. 

Both teams have gone 2-2-0 since, with the Wild splitting two-game series against Anaheim (road) and San Jose (home), and the Kings winning once against Colorado (home) and St. Louis (road). 

"Obviously we'd love to sweep our little sets as much as we can. It's nice to get the first one, it puts you in a good position to do that, but there's a ton of parity in this League," said Wild forward Nick Bonino. "I don't think there's a runaway favorite in any division and you see it around the league. Especially when you play the same team twice, teams are too good now, the scouting is too good, there's adjustments that are made quickly."

Minnesota's 4-2-0 start to the season has it sitting second in the Honda West Division, two points back of first-place Vegas one ahead of third-place St. Louis. Los Angeles is one of four teams in the division with six points. 

Powered by Kaprizov, who leads all NHL rookies in scoring through six games, as well as Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala -- who have each scored goals in consecutive games after going scoreless in each of the first four games -- the Wild is hoping its offensive firepower is starting to come together.

Parise in particular was outstanding in a losing effort Sunday against San Jose, scoring once and getting robbed on a handful of other grade-A scoring chances by Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. 

"He's getting those chances in the areas that Zach Parise gets his chances and he scores goals. And that means he's doing the right things as far as getting to the net and pucks are getting there," said Wild coach Dean Evason. "We had a ton of quality, quality opportunities [on Sunday night], and they just didn't go in the net. And again, we've got to believe that they will and certainly in Zach's case, we know they will."

The Wild did not practice on Monday, so there was no update on goaltender Cam Talbot, who missed Sunday's game with a lower-body injury sustained in the first period of the team's game on Friday night. He missed the final 40 minutes of that game as well. 

Kaapo Kahkonen has played eight of the past nine periods, posting a 2-1-0 record to go with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.

Forward Nico Sturm, battling a non-COVID illness, has missed the past two games as well. 

Quick is 2-0-2 for Los Angeles with a 3.15 goals-against and an .898 save percentage. 

The Kings are led offensively by Anze Kopitar, who has an NHL-leading nine assists among his League co-leading 10 points. Adrian Kempe, Gabriel Vilardi and Andreas Athanasiou each have three goals. 

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