The Los Angeles Kings earned an exhilarating overtime victory against the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on a Tanner Pearson goal.
The Wild came into this contest winning 13 out of their last 14 games, only losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets during that impressive span.
The Kings scratched Kevin Gravel and replaced him with Matt Greene for this contest. It was Greene’s first game since December 28. Andy Andreoff and Tom Gilbert joined Gravel as scratches. The Wild scratched Jordan Schroeder and Nate Prosser.
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The Kings got the benefit of going against a backup goaltender for the second straight game. Darcy Kuemper got the start in net over Devan Dubnyk for the Wild.
Considering that Dubnyk leads the league in save percentage and GAA, it was a welcome revelation for the Kings as they sought to recover from their lopsided loss to the Red Wings.
Mikko Koivu continued his hot streak by putting the Wild up 1-0 just 3:12 into the 1st period. He scored the final two goals in their last win against the Sharks, including the game tying and winning goals.
Charlie Coyle followed that up by expanding the lead 2-0 with a goal 7:27 into the 1st. Jason Pominville got the assist.
Much like the Detroit Red Wings game, the Kings didn’t give up many shots, but found themselves in a hole early. The Wild managed just 6 shots on goal in the 1st period, but scored on 2 of them.
The Kings did well in the faceoff circle in the 1st period, though, winning 12 and losing only 6.
The Kings snapped out of their funk in the 2nd period. Jeff Carter cut the lead in half with a goal 7:39 into the 2nd period.
Before the Carter goal, the Kings had given up 6 unanswered goals over the past two games. Carter extended his goal total this season to 22, moving him into sole possession of 2nd place in that category. Only Sidney Crosby has more goals than him this season. Jake Muzzin got the assist on it.
Marian Gaborik asserted himself against his former team, lighting the lamp at 11:13 into the 2nd period. It was just his second goal of the season, and to do it against the team he became a star with was a bonus. Carter and Drew Doughty got the assists on the game tying goal.
Late in the 2nd, Eric Staal was whistled for high sticking on Nic Dowd 17:17 into the period. The Kings managed just one shot on the power play, and the period eventually wound down with the game tied 2-2. The Kings managed to outshoot the Wild 16-10 in the 2nd period.
The Kings went back on the power play just 7 seconds into the 3rd period when Jared Spurgeon was called for a cross check on Pearson.
The Kings took advantage of the opportunity, as Jake Muzzin netted a goal on the man advantage at 54 seconds into the period. Doughty and Carter got both the assists for the second straight score.
Minnesota then went back to the box when they were called for too many men on the ice 6:23 into the 3rd.
Dowd was called for interference on Zach Parise 8:01 into the period, ending that power play opportunity for the Kings. They held onto their lead by killing off the penalty.
The drama continued when Nick Shore was called for slashing Spurgeon 11:24 into the period. The Kings hunkered down and killed the penalty without allowing any shots on goal during the power play.
Doughty ensured that the Kings would have to finish off the game shorthanded if they wanted to come away with a win in regulation. He was called for tripping Mikael Granlund 18:43 into the period.
The Wild seized the moment, and Zach Parise scored in the final minute to tie the game 3-3. Staal and Koivu got the assists. The clutch score was nothing new for this Wild team.
The Kings outshot the Wild in every period, yet they’d have to prevail in overtime if they wanted to vanquish one of the best teams in the league.
Pearson duplicated the heroics from the Sharks game just days ago, scoring in overtime again to give the Kings another big win. Anze Kopitar and Alec Martinez got the assists. Pearson is making a habit of elevating his performance at the most opportune times.
Kuemper saved 32 out of 36 shots against him, while Peter Budaj got the win by saving 21 out of 24 shots against him.
Both teams went 1 for 3 on the power play. For the time being, the Kings will jump back into a wildcard spot in the Western Conference.