GAMEDAY: Wild at Kings
Minnesota Wild (12-11-4: 28 points, 13th in Western Conference, 3rd in Northwest Division) at Los Angeles Kings (16-10-0: 32 points, T-6th in Western Conference, T-3rd in Pacific Division)
The Minnesota Wild left Phoenix, Arizona on Thursday with two points, and three dinged up regulars. Matt Cullen
(groin), John Madden
(upper body) and Greg Zanon
(leg) are all listed as questionable for tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. With two of those players being centers, the Wild called up C Warren Peters
from the Houston Aeros this morning. Peters, who has NHL experience with the Calgary Flames and the Dallas Stars, would become the 31st player to play for the Wild this season should he get into the lineup. Through 27 games in Houston, Peters has four goals and seven assists.
The Wild is looking to build on a solid 3-2 road win over the Phoenix Coyotes, which featured two goals from Andrew Brunette
. Brent Burns
notched the other Wild goal, while Mikko Koivu
and Antti Miettinen
each tallied a pair of helpers. Niklas Backstrom
won his first game since November 17 after a 33 save effort.
The Kings knocked off the Calgary Flames on Thursday, 2-1. Kyle Clifford picked up his first goal of the season before Anze Kopitar put in the game-winner in the third period. Jonathan Quick stopped 26 of 27 shots to earn his 14th win of the season.
Wild at Kings will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North at 9:30 PM. The game can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com.
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Who says you can’t skate outdoors in SoCal. The Nokia Plaza outside STAPLES Center will have an outdoor skating rink open this entire month. So grab your skates and head down early so you don’t miss your chance to skate with Santa Claus.
The Kings own the longest current win streak in the Western Conference…at three games. That’s not exactly setting any NHL records, but such is life in the West these days, where no team has pulled too far ahead, or fallen too far back. But the Wild knows that Los Angeles is certainly capable of getting hot as they did back in October to improve to 6-1-1 after a shootout win in Minnesota.
The Kings are dangerous because of their balance and combination of skilled and gritty young players. But this team revolves around Kopitar, who not only is an immense talent, but is also showing he’s got a killer instinct. In each of the last three games, Kopitar has notched the game-winner to bring his goal total to 11.
Miettinen has always been a streaky player for the Wild, but when his good streaks show up, the points pile up in bunches. After scoring a goal in Dallas on Saturday, Mitts assisted on the Wild’s first two goals in Phoenix, including a spectacular feed from the sideboards to Burns at the top of the crease. Miettinen has moved into a four-way tie for the team lead in goals with seven, and ranks fourth overall in points with 15.
Two days ago in this space, we rejoiced that the Wild would finally get to enjoy the fruits of a mainly healthy lineup. And now three key players are injured. Apologies. The most serious appears to be Cullen’s groin injury, which hampers the Wild significantly. Not only do they lose a key scorer, but also a fixture on the power play and penalty kill.
Two of the NHL’s biggest hitters – Cal Clutterbuck
and Dustin Brown – will be back on the ice tonight. Typically, these two are also the cleanest hitters out there, but Brown caught Miettinen in the head with a blindside hit in the last meeting, and that didn’t sit well with Head Coach Todd Richards. Brown is not the kind of guy you target for revenge, but he will be in the mix at all times, as will Clutterbuck.
Of the three injured players, Cullen appears the least likely to be able to go, and that means Peters likely makes his Wild debut:
If Zanon can’t play, Clayton Stoner
gets back in the lineup:
With yet another set of back-to-back games starting tonight, Jose Theodore
will get the start. Backstrom will get back to the crease tomorrow in Anaheim.
Tonight’s scratches will depend on the availability of Cullen and Madden. If neither can go, Brad Staubitz
gets back in the lineup.
(abdominal) is out. Cullen (groin) is doubtful. Madden (upper body) and Zanon (leg) are questionable.
"It was pretty easy sending guys over the boards, because everybody was putting it on the line.”
-- Todd Richards paying the ultimate compliment to his team after its performance on Thursday
Injured D Willie Mitchell was a member of the Wild from 2001 through 2006. D Jack Johnson spent time at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault.
With his seventh goal on Thursday, Burns is now on pace for 21 goals this season which would obliterate the team record by a defenseman, which he also owns after scoring 15 in 2007-08.