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
Backup Josh Harding wasn’t much better in the matchup earlier
this season, surrendering six goals on 23 shots.