Wild-Kings Preview

Just when the Los Angeles Kings started getting healthy again,

the injury bug came back to bite them once more.

On Monday night, they’ll try to withstand the loss of Justin

Williams and continue their success against the Minnesota Wild.

The Kings (22-13-3) welcomed back forwards Ryan Smyth and Wayne

Simmonds, but fell 3-2 at Phoenix on Saturday following an

eight-day break to conclude a 1-3-0 road trip.

Los Angeles may have suffered an even bigger blow when Williams

broke his right leg early in the first period. The Coyotes’ Ed

Jovanovski spun off a check from center Anze Kopitar to hit

Williams and both players fell on him.

Williams – one of six players on the club with at least 24

points – fell backward with his leg trapped underneath his


“When he was coming in front of the bench, on the stretcher,

pulling his hair, he was hurting,” coach Terry Murray told the

Kings’ official Web site of Williams. “He was hurting a lot.”

Williams has twice torn knee ligaments, torn an Achilles tendon

and has broken his hand and wrist in an injury-filled nine-year


Now, the Kings are going to need more from Kopitar, their top

scorer with 16 goals and 39 points. Though he’s had just two goals

in the last 20 games, Kopitar has posted nine assists over that

stretch, including one Saturday.

Kopitar has been a big part of Los Angeles’ five-game winning

streak against Minnesota (19-16-3), getting four goals and two

assists. He had three points in a 6-3 win at Staples Center on Oct.


The Kings have taken the last three home meetings with the Wild

and are 10-4-2 in Los Angeles, winning five of the last six


Minnesota is getting strong play from left wing Guillaume

Latendresse, who has four goals in his last four games after

scoring two in Saturday’s 4-3 victory over St. Louis.

Acquired Nov. 23 from Montreal for Benoit Pouliot, Latendresse

has six goals in 13 games for the Wild, who are 11-2-0 with the

22-year-old in the lineup.

He scored 46 goals in his first three seasons in Montreal, but

found the net only twice in 23 games before the deal.

“I didn’t have a lot of ice time. I was a third-line or

fourth-line player playing maybe 10 minutes a game. I was averaging

15 goals a year,” Latendresse said. “Here I get the opportunity to

play with some great players. I get a lot of ice time, so I’m happy

to have the opportunity to produce.”

Niklas Backstrom will likely be in net after making 18 saves

against the Blues to win for the sixth time in eight games, while

posting a 1.87 goals-against average and a shutout.

He’s 0-2-1 with a 3.10 GAA in his last four meetings with the

Kings, getting pulled midway through the second period after

allowing three goals on 13 shots in a 4-3 loss at Los Angeles on

March 7.

Backup Josh Harding wasn’t much better in the matchup earlier

this season, surrendering six goals on 23 shots.