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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at Los Angeles

Wild aims to bounce back following loss Tuesday in San Jose

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild (8-4-2) at Los Angeles Kings (5-8-1)

Puck drop: 9:38 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North; FOX Sports app

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


LOS ANGELES -- Stop No. 5 of the Wild's seven-game road swing commences Thursday night when Minnesota plays the Los Angeles Kings at STAPLES Center. 

The Wild fell to 2-2 through the first four games of the trip with a 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, a trip that will continue with games in Anaheim (Friday) and St. Louis (Sunday) before returning home for a game against the Washington Capitals next Tuesday.

Video: Lengthy road trip continues for Wild

The biggest question surrounding the Wild entering play on Thursday will be the status of forward Eric Staal, who did not play Tuesday because of illness. Minnesota practiced Wednesday in San Jose before flying to Southern California, a practice Staal did not participate in. 

Staal did not fly with the team to L.A. but was expected to join his teammates here later on Wednesday. 

"I would say he's questionable," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "To me, he'd have to feel really good [Wednesday night] and have a really good morning skate to feel strong enough to go."

Video: Boudreau updates status of Eric Staal

Matt Hendricks was given a maintenance day on Wednesday and also did not practice. With Staal out of the lineup, Hendricks played in a game for the first time since Oct. 16 because of a lower-body injury. 

Boudreau initially targeted Hendricks to return from the injury in the game on Thursday.

The game Thursday marks the second of three meetings between the teams this season, with the Wild securing a 4-1 win in St. Paul on Oct. 25. Eric Fehr and Jonas Brodin each scored to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes before Kyle Clifford's tally 3:39 into the third period got L.A. close. Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu closed out the game with empty-net tallies in the final minute of regulation. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 23 saves.

Since that game, the Kings have replaced their head coach, dismissing John Stevens on Sunday and promoting Willie Desjardins on an interim basis.

The Kings won Desjardins' debut behind the bench on Tuesday, scoring a 4-1 win against its crosstown-rivals, the Anaheim Ducks.

Los Angeles is in the midst of a seven-game homestand which began Oct. 28. The Kings are 3-1 during that stretch, including back-to-back wins in their past two contests.


Offense from defense

Through 14 games this season, Minnesota defensemen have totaled 34 points (14-20=34). Per NHL Stats, the Wild blueliners ranks second in the NHL in most goals scored by team defensemen and first in defense goal percentage (32.6).

• Minnesota ranks fifth in the NHL with three shorthanded goals. Two of its three SHG are owned by defensemen - Jonas Brodin and Ryan Suter. Both are two of the only six NHL blueliners with a SHG this season (Trevor Daley, Brenden Dillon, Scott Mayfield & P.K. Subban).


Back-to-back

• Thursday's contest begins Minnesota's fourth set of 15 back-to-backs this season. The Wild is 1-2-0 in the first night of back-to-backs and 3-0-0 in the second this season.

• Minnesota went 13-13-4 in its 15 sets of back-to-back games last season. The Wild went 8-6-1 in the first game, 5-7-3 in the second and also posted a 6-2-1 record against NHL teams playing their second game of a back-to-back.


Game notes

WILD LEADERS: F Mikko Koivu leads Minnesota with 38 points (12-26=38) in 40 games against Los Angeles…Suter owns 24 points (1-23=24) in 44 contests…LW Zach Parise has 17 points (6-11=17) in 24 games…Staal owns 11 points (5-6=11) in 20 contests…C Charlie Coyle has 10 points (6-4=10) in 19 matches.

WILD GOALIES: G Devan Dubnyk is 8-5-2 with a 2.42 GAA and a .924 SV% in 16 games (15 starts) vs. the Kings…G Alex Stalock is 0-2-1 with a 2.93 GAA and a .889 SV% in four games (three starts).

KINGS LEADERS: C Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 34 points (11-23=34) in 43 matches against Minnesota…RW Dustin Brown has 25 points (12-13=25) in 45 games…C Jeff Carter owns 21 points (10-11=21) in 28 contests…D Drew Doughty owns 21 points (3-18=21) in 34 matches.

KINGS GOALIES: G Jack Campbell earned the loss in his sole career action against Minnesota (10/25)…G Peter Budaj is 10-9-3 with a 2.60 GAA and a .900 SV% in 26 games (23 starts).


Did you know?

Minnesota is 6-1-4 in the last 11 games against Los Angeles and 14-7-6 in its last 26 games against the Kings with 12 of those games decided in extra sessions…Minnesota is 15-4-5 in the last 24 contests played at Xcel Energy Center, including an active six-game point streak since March 28, 2015 (5-0-1)…The Wild owns points in six of its last eight games at STAPLES Center (3-2-3).

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