Wild 4, Kings 3
Only two players are left on Los Angeles roster from Eric
Belanger’s final season with the Kings.
Alexander Frolov and Dustin Brown were both on the ice when
their ex-teammate scored each of his two goals Monday night for the
Minnesota Wild – including the go-ahead score with 2:25
Defenseman Kim Johnsson scored during a power play, Martin
Havlat also had a goal and Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves in
Minnesota’s 4-3 victory, which ended Minnesota’s five-game losing
streak against the Kings.
“The third period was a little hectic,” defenseman Nick
Schultz said. “We wanted to try and play in their end a little bit
more, but Nick made some good plays and weathered the storm.”
The Kings got goals from rookie Scott Parse and defensemen Drew
Doughty and Jack Johnson. Jonathan Quick stopped 19 shots,
including a breakaway by Antti Miettinen with 10:10 left. Los
Angeles’ third straight defeat matched its longest losing streak of
Trailing 3-1 after two periods, the Kings tied the score at 3
with 2:37 to play when Parse converted a pass from Brad Richardson
with a slap shot from the right circle that beat Backstrom to the
But the Kings’ euphoria lasted just 12 seconds, as Belanger
responded with a slap shot from the right circle that regained the
lead for the Wild.
“They were down by two goals, and their defense was much more
active and much more aggressive in the offensive zone,” Minnesota
coach Todd Richards said. “But good teams find ways to win and
character teams find ways to win. What a big goal by Belanger after
they scored and had all the momentum. The crowd was boisterous and
loud, and then our goal went in and put everyone back in their
Belanger has three goals in nine games against Los Angeles, the
team he spent his first five NHL seasons with. Minnesota is the
third team he has played for since the Kings traded him to Carolina
in September 2006 in a multiplayer deal that brought Johnson to
“It’s unbelievable how quick that happened,” Doughty said.
“Mentally, we had all the power there. We felt like, if we took it
to overtime, we were going to win that game. Then they got that
heartbreaker 12 seconds later. That can’t be happening if we want
to win games.”
The Kings, 1 for 18 on the power play over their previous six
games, got their only opportunity with the man advantage after
Schultz was sent off for interference 45 seconds into the third
period. They made it count, as Johnson’s one-timer from the right
point caromed off Johnsson and past Backstrom.
After going 2 for 39 on the power play over their previous 10
games, the Wild grabbed a 2-1 lead at the 15-minute mark of the
second period while Smyth was off for hooking Marek Zidlicky.
Andrew Brunette got the puck from Mikko Koivu at the edge of the
crease and flipped a no-look backhanded pass to Johnsson, who had
plenty of daylight with Quick out of position.
Belanger made it 3-1 just 62 seconds before the second
intermission, converting a pass from behind the net by Owen
Havlat opened the scoring at 4:23 of the second period with his
seventh goal. He carried the puck into the Kings’ zone with Johnson
the only defenseman back, and beat Quick to the stick side with a
wrist shot from the top of the right circle.
The Kings, returning to Staples Center for the first time since
Dec. 12 after a 1-3 road trip and playing before their fifth
sellout, tied it at 11:36 of the second on a disputed goal that
required a video review.
Backstrom stopped Richardson’s 35-foot wrist shot with his left
leg, and Doughty lost his balance going for the juicy rebound at
the right of the crease. But he managed to get his stick on the
puck while sliding into Backstrom, and it slid across the goal
“In my opinion, I think it’s goalie interference,” Backstrom
said. “I didn’t have a chance to make a save there.”
Minnesota’s first power-play chance came after Smyth was sent
off for tripping Schultz at the 7-minute mark. Miettinen hit the
right post with a 20-foot wrist shot about a minute later, then
Kings forward Alexander Frolov was denied by Backstrom on a
short-handed bid at the edge of the crease after stripping
defenseman Shane Hnidy of the puck at the left boards.
NOTES: Teddy Purcell took over at RW on the Kings’ top line with
C Anze Kopitar and LW Ryan Smith. He replaced Justin Williams, who
broke his right ankle during Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Phoenix and
underwent surgery on Monday. … Minnesota RW Chuck Kobasew was
scratched because of an injured left knee, which occurred during a
collision with St. Louis’ Keith Tkachuk. … Quick came in 4-0 with
a 2.20 goals-against average in his four previous starts against
Minnesota. He leads all NHL goalies with 36 games played and 2,166
minutes. … Eleven of the Kings’ last 13 games have been decided
by one-goal margins (8-3-0). … The Kings haven’t scored more than
three goals in any of their last seven games.