The Wild plays at STAPLES Center for the first time this season, in search of its third straight win overall. Minnesota last won three in a row during a four-game run Nov. 3-17.
Minnesota is coming off a 5-3 win over Washington on Saturday, after trailing by two goals after a period. Ryan Suter notched the first hat trick by a defenseman in team history, while Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker also scored. The Wild lost Mikko Koivu to a fractured ankle — although he came back to assist on two Suter power play goals, 42 seconds apart, midway through the second period.
Five Minnesota Wild players have been named to their country’s roster for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Today, Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund were named to Finland’s roster. Forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter were named to Team USA on Jan. 1, and forward Nino Niederreiter was named to Switzerland’s roster on Jan. 6.
The Kings are in third place in the Pacific Division, despite a recent five-game losing streak. That slide was snapped Saturday, a 3-1 home win over Vancouver after a four-game road trip. Jonathan Quick made a triumphant return to the crease, making 27 saves, while Jeff Carter scored twice.
Los Angeles is 14-5-2 on home ice, including a 12-3-2 mark since losing two of its first four in Southern California. The Kings are 6-1-0 in their last seven home games but have not scored on the power play at home since Nov. 19. They are 0-for-28 with the man advantage in 10 home games since. Overall, Los Angeles ranks 23rd in the NHL with a 15.2 power play percentage.
Meet the Kings
Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 35 points (13-22=35) and is a whopping plus-22. Jeff Carter paces LA with 15 goals. The Kings are led on the blue line by Drew Doughty (6-17=23).
Quick returned Saturday to play for the first time since Nov. 12 after sustaining a lower-body injury. He is 11-5-0 this season with a 2.27 GAA and a .909 SV%. He made 27 saves in a season-opening 3-2 shootout win at Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 3.
If You’re Going
Wear sunscreen. Kidding. Sort of. Take in the sights at LA Live, the entertainment and dining complex around STAPLES Center. Our personal favorite is Lucky Strike. The area around STAPLES Center is always abuzz, it doesn’t matter if there’s a concert, or game involving the Lakers, Clippers or Kings.
The Wild will wear its WHITE sweaters tonight.
Not only is Ryan Suter coming off the hat trick Saturday, he is one point away from reaching 300 in his NHL career (47-252=299). He has seven points (5-2=7) in a four-game point streak. He leads the NHL in TOI/game (29:40) — more than two minutes ahead of the next player. Also, he’s played 30-plus minutes in half of the Wild’s 44 games.
The defense will remain the same:
Between the Pipes
The starting goaltender will be a game-time decision. If it's Niklas Backstrom, it will be his third straight start. Darcy Kuemper has appeared in one game against LA and is 0-0-0 with a 1.05 GAA and a .917 SV% in one game.
Yeo Quote of the Day
It’s an opportunity for everyone. Those three guys are going to get a real taste of a heavy workload, of playing with and against top guys.
-Yeo on opportunity for Coyle, Granlund and Haula.
View from the Press Box
Jon Blum and Mike Rupp are expected to be tonight’s healthy scratches.
Honorary State of Hockey Residents
Willie Mitchell skated in 288 games with Minnesota in parts of five seasons (2000-06).
Since the start of the 2008-09 season, the Wild is 186-152-39 with Mikko Koivu in the lineup, and 14-24-5 without.
Wild at Los Angeles will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North with a start time at 9:30 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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