After the Minnesota Wild’s biggest win of the season on Saturday night, the team gave itself a little breathing room in the Western Conference Wild Card race. The Wild holds a three-point lead on the Phoenix Coyotes and a four-point cushion on the Dallas Stars. However, Minnesota won’t be able to get too comfortable as the club faces another tough test tonight against the red-hot Los Angeles Kings. L.A. has won six consecutive games coming into the contest.
The Wild and the Kings split the season series with the third and final contest serving as the rubber match. Minnesota suffered a 3-2 shootout loss in the season opener at Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 3 and earned a 2-1 shootout victory at STAPLES Center on Jan. 7.
BREAKING: The Minnesota Wild has signed goaltender Rob Laurie to a Professional Tryout Agreement and will serve as an emergency goaltender for tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is out with an upper-body injury.
Zach Parise surpassed his father on the National Hockey League’s all-time goal list on Saturday. In seven NHL seasons, the younger Parise now has 239 career goals. With his two-goal effort, Parise has drawn even for the team lead with Jason Pominville (27). In his two seasons with the Wild, Parise has scored 45 goals in 108 games. In the game, Parise was reunited on a line with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle, and it seemed to have sparked the trio.
Wild defenseman Jonathon Blum is expected to skate in his 100th NHL game tonight. The Long Beach native became the first California-born-and-raised player to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft (23rd overall by Nashville in 2007).
On Saturday, Minnesota scored three third-period goals for a come-from-behind win against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena. Parise scored twice and Jared Spurgeon netted the winner. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov beat his former team by making 23 saves.
The Kings won at home on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets, 4-2. Los Angeles scored three first-period goals, two from Anze Kopitar, and Tyler Toffoli added the fourth. Jonathan Quick made 24 saves for his 26th win of the season.
Meet the Jewels
With 94 points on the year, the Kings have all but clinched the third spot in the Pacific Division. L.A. seems to have found consistency at home and on the road. The club has nearly identical records at and away from STAPLES Center. The Kings are 22-13-3 at home and 22-12-3 outside of Hollywood.
The Kings are the second stingiest team in the NHL, allowing only one more goal (159) than the Boston Bruins. It doesn’t seem to matter who is in goal for L.A. Jonathan Quick owns a 2.06 goals-against average, while backup Martin Jones has a 1.91 GAA.
If You’re Going
It is Stick Up For Animals Night, with special ticket prices benefitting local animal rescue and adoption services. It is also Student Night and Military Nights presented by Raytheon. Three nights rolled into one.
The Wild will wear its WHITE sweaters tonight.
Mikko Koivu registered his Wild-best 11th multi-point game of the season Saturday with two assists, stretching his point streak to five games (1-6=7) – tied for his longest this season. The captain leads all NHL players in assists since March 18, totaling nine helpers (and a goal) in seven games.
Probable Starting Lineup
The lines will stay the same:
The blue line is expected to remain the same:
Between the Pipes
It appears Ilya Bryzgalov will get the start. He is 14-7-4 with a 2.32 GAA, .919 SV% and two shutouts in 26 careers starts against Los Angeles.
Yeo Quote of the Day
Reuniting those guys together, part of that is, “Hey, you guys are leaders, you guys who have got to go out there and show us how it’s done.”
- Yeo on reuniting Parise and Koivu
View From the Press Box
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
RW Marian Gaborik is the Wild’s all-time franchise leader in goals (219), plus-minus rating (plus-54), PPGs (59), GWGs (43), shots (1,694) and second in points (437) in 502 games. He was selected by Minnesota with the third overall pick in the 2000 Entry Draft. D Willie Mitchell skated in 288 games with Minnesota in parts of five seasons (2000-06).
It should be a defensive battle tonight. Los Angeles is second in the League in goals against per game (2.07), while Minnesota ranks sixth (2.43).
Wild at Kings will be broadcast nationally in high definition on NBC Sports Network with a start time at 9:00 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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