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Kuemper to Start for Wild Against Kings

Goaltender is 2-0-1 in four career games at Staples Center

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

LOS ANGELES -- Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is expected to get the start for the Minnesota Wild when it plays the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Saturday afternoon.

The game is the first of back-to-back contests this weekend in Southern California; the Wild finishes its three-game road trip Sunday with a late afternoon start against the Anaheim Ducks. 

With Devan Dubnyk playing well this season, Kuemper has found playing time tough to come by. But whenever he has been asked to play the Kings, he's almost always come through.

In four career games at Staples Center, Kuemper is 2-0-1 with a 0.98 goals against average and has stopped nearly 97 percent of shots faced. 

It just so happens that the game in Los Angeles is one half of back-to-backs, meaning Kuemper was likely to get a start anyway. 

Minnesota can assure itself of a winning road trip with a victory against the Kings. The Wild rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits in a 5-4 win against the Sharks on Thursday, just the second time in franchise history the Wild has accomplished the feat. 

The games this weekend also mark the return to Southern California for coach Bruce Boudreau, who was head coach of the Ducks for 4 1/2 seasons before being let go last summer. 

Boudreau also spent five seasons coaching in the Kings organization, guiding the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, New Hampshire more than a decade ago.

"It's hard to say with a straight face that this is just another road trip," Boudreau said. "It's great to see old friends. I've seen a few of them today and I'm sure I'm going to see a few of them tomorrow and a few of them the next day. 

"It's exciting to come back to where you once lived and see people you like. It's a special weekend."

The Kings are playing the second game of a seven-game homestand, one that started with a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. Los Angeles has lost four of its past six games, with the lone victories coming in consecutive wins over San Jose.

Jeff Carter leads the Kings in both goals (21) and points (33). Tanner Pearson, with 10 goals, is the only other King who has reached double digits in goals. 

Despite a lack of scoring, Los Angeles has stayed afloat this season due to the emergence of goaltender Peter Budaj. After spending all of last season in the AHL, Budaj has filled in well for an injured Jonathan Quick, posting a 17-10-3 record with a 2.00 goals against and a .921 save percentage.

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