PREVIEW: Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild clash in matchup of two of NHL’s hottest clubs

By Field Level Media
Feb 18, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Arizona Coyotes in the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the hottest teams in the NHL will meet up Friday night when the Minnesota Wild host the Los Angeles Kings in Saint Paul, Minn.

The Kings have won six in a row following two-game sweeps at the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues to start their six-game road trip.

Los Angeles is scheduled to conclude the trip Saturday night against Minnesota.

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The Wild lost to the Kings 4-0 on Feb. 16 in their first game back from a two-week pause caused by a COVID-19 outbreak on the team. Minnesota has since won four in a row, combining for 20 goals in those wins.

“Since we’ve been back, we’ve won games that we needed to win,” Zach Parise said. “It’s nice to have those games (in) hand, but you have to win them. We’ve done that.”

The Kings also shut out the Blues 3-0 during their six-game winning streak, surrendering just seven goals in that span.

Los Angeles goalies Cal Petersen and Jonathan Quick have combined to save 202 of the past 212 shots.

“We’re all doing our jobs,” Petersen said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We’re taking it game by game. I think it’s paying off for us. Guys are seizing the opportunities given to them. The older guys keep setting the tone. We’re hoping to build off it.”

No veteran on the Kings has set the tone more offensively than Dustin Brown.

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The 16-year veteran was credited with his 11th goal of the season on Thursday morning, a day after the Kings defeated the Blues 2-1.

Brown, who leads the West Division in goals and is fifth in the NHL, has nine points (seven goals, two assists) in the past seven games.

“You adapt and you grow as a player,” Brown said last weekend. “I still care about my point totals and our team point totals. I’m still competitive in that nature, but I know there’s games when I’m not going to produce and that I can find other ways to help this team win.”

The Wild are getting contributions across their lineup, as 17 different players have notched points during the four-game winning streak.

Marcus Foligno and Ryan Hartman have combined for eight points in the past two games, while others have emerged from long scoring slumps.

Parise ended a nine-game goalless streak with the game-winning goal in a 6-2 win at the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

“We feel pretty good about the way we’ve been playing, and the direction that we’re going,” Parise said.

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On the back end, Ian Cole has made a major difference since the Wild acquired him in a trade with the Avalanche on Jan. 19. Cole is a plus-6 during the winning streak and scored his first goal of the season on Monday.

Cole won Stanley Cup titles with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017, a major asset for a Wild organization that’s looking for its first trip to the finals.

“That’s enough said,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said of Cole’s championship experience. “What he’s brought to our room, to our leadership, the calm influence. … Guys look to him for leadership.”

–Field Level Media