ST. PAUL, Minn. — There’s hardly a better way to create momentum in hockey than killing penalties at home, as the Minnesota Wild did so well.
More Wild coverage
Scoring five straight goals to build a big lead at the second intermission will usually get that done, too.
Erik Haula and Jason Pominville scored and assisted on the other’s first-period goal, fueling the Wild for a 6-3 victory over Los Angeles that triggered an early exit for Kings goalie Jeff Zatkoff on Tuesday night.
"Not every game can be a Picasso," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We found a way."
Three shots by the Kings hit the pipes in the first period, which Pominville punctuated with his goal with 12 seconds left after a sloppy line change that Kings coach Darryl Sutter blamed on veteran defenseman Alec Martinez.
Then the Wild squelched 49 seconds of a 5-on-3 situation for the Kings midway through the second period before Charlie Coyle, Mikko Koivu and Teemu Pulkkinen scored for the Wild. Sutter pulled Zatkoff for Peter Budaj during the second intermission.
The Wild, whose perennially effective penalty kill units fell to fourth-worst in the NHL last season with a stoppage rate of 77.9 percent, denied all five power plays for the Kings and finished the game as one of three remaining teams in the league without a power-play goal against them yet this season, with 11 opportunities.
"You’d like your power play to click, but that’d only count for one," Sutter said. "There were saves to be made there that weren’t."
Zatkoff stopped 11 shots in his third straight loss since replacing star Jonathan Quick just 20 minutes into the season opener last week. Budaj made nine saves.
"All I know is that If I was playing I’d shoot from everywhere," Boudreau said. "When you know that you’ve got a goalie that’s a little bit rattled, you’ve got to get pucks at the net."
Tanner Pearson had two goals, both assisted by Jeff Carter, and Anze Kopitar also scored in the third period for the Kings, but Jared Spurgeon’s end-to-end empty-net fling from the far corner put the bow on a banner evening for the Wild.
Pearson gave the Kings the lead 50 seconds into the game, but the Wild snapped back with a breakaway goal by Haula from the left wing that sneaked between Zatkoff’s pads a mere 46 seconds later. With Haula centering Pominville and Nino Niederreiter, the Wild’s third line was buzzing all night.
"We just keep feeding off each other, and we just know where we’re going to be," Haula said.
Darcy Kuemper, in his first start of the season, was a lot luckier than Zatkoff. He finished with 27 saves and was all smiles afterward.
"I got away with a couple there. The post is a goalie’s best friend," Kuemper said.
The Kings couldn’t have started the season in worse fashion, with Quick out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, the Kings missed the postseason in 2015 and won only one playoff game last spring while going out with a whimper in their first-round loss to San Jose.
Before Quick was hurt, the Kings were already down one of their top six forwards with a broken right foot for Marian Gaborik in the World Cup of Hockey likely sidelining him until late November.
"I think everyone knows that Quickie is a big part of this team, but with Zats and Boods we have trust in them and we have to help them out too," Pearson said.
The Kings have been outscored 12-6 in three games.
"That’s just not going to cut it," Kopitar said. "You don’t have to be a scientist to figure it out."
NOTES: The Wild are 13-4-4 in their last 21 home games against the Kings. … Pominville has four goals and 10 assists in 17 career games against the Kings. He didn’t score his first goal last season until his 22nd game, on Nov. 28 against Dallas. … Gaborik, who last skated for Minnesota eight seasons ago, is still the Wild’s all-time leading scorer with 219 goals. He’s been replaced in the lineup by Devin Setoguchi, another former Wild player, albeit only briefly from 2011-13.
Los Angeles stays on the road for a visit to Dallas on Thursday night.
Minnesota remains at home to play Toronto on Thursday night.