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

remaining.

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

the season.

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

stick side.

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

seats.”

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

L.A.

“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

Nolan.

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

line.

“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.