The surging Los Angeles Kings inched closer to locking up a postseason spot with another big win their last time out.
Though the wild-card leading Minnesota Wild have struggled of late, they managed to pick up two points in their latest game, too.
Los Angeles tries to stay hot against visiting Minnesota as these playoff hopefuls go toe-to-toe Monday night.
Anze Kopitar scored twice and Willie Mitchell and Marian Gaborik each had two assists as the Kings (44-25-6) cruised to a 4-2 win over Winnipeg on Saturday. Jonathan Quick finished with 24 saves, giving him an 11-2-0 mark and 1.67 goals-against average in his last 13 starts.
"I don’t think there is any coasting going on, period," said coach Darryl Sutter, whose team has won six straight and 14 of 17. "You’re just trying to refine parts of your game, very simple. You are trying to take care of your own business first. You’re not a playoff team until you clinch the playoff spot."
The Kings are 10 points ahead of Phoenix for the third and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division.
The Wild (38-26-11) moved three ahead of the Coyotes in the Western Conference wild-card standings with Saturday’s 3-1 road win.
"This time of the year, you want to work on your game," Kopitar, leading Los Angeles with 62 points, told the NHL’s official website. "You want to sharpen the game up as much as you can and get ready for the playoffs.
" … It’s a good intensity out there. It’s a pretty good indication what playoff hockey is going to be all about. We certainly have to get ready ourselves."
Minnesota struggled through a 1-3-1 stretch before stepping up in the desert. Zach Parise scored two of Minnesota’s three third-period goals and Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves against his former team.
"We had a big talk (Thursday) night, just the team," said defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who tallied the go-ahead goal with just over seven minutes left in regulation. "We talked about how important this game was and if we turn it around now then we can get hot and just forget about the past."
Mikko Koivu recorded two assists, giving him 10 points over the last seven games. The Wild are 10-1-0 when their captain notches multiple points.
"We need to use this as a game we can kind of springboard something off of," coach Mike Yeo said. "We’ve had enough games where there have been some bad feelings afterward. Let’s use this as one that hopefully we can build something off of."
Bryzgalov, acquired from Edmonton earlier this month, is 3-0-2 with a 1.94 GAA in five starts with the Wild. He’s gone 0-3-2 with a 2.39 GAA in his last five versus Los Angeles.
Quick is 1-2-2 with a 2.76 GAA in his last five home games against the Wild.
Los Angeles and Minnesota have split two meetings this season, with each team posting shootout wins on the road. The Kings have gone 2-1-3 in the past six in the series.
Kopitar has 12 points in his last 10 home games against Minnesota. Gaborik, who spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Wild, has one goal and one assist in four matchups with his former team.