Numbers just don't add up in Wild loss

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 25, 2011 - 3:26 PM

Without Mikko Koivu and the sick Kyle Brodziak, the Wild couldn't keep up with the Kings as they leapfrogged into fifth.

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Niklas Backstrom gave up more than two goals for only the fifth time in the past 18 games.

Photo: Mark J. Terrill, AP

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LOS ANGELES - Inside the Staples Center, John Madden was centering the second line, at times playing the power play. Cody Almond was centering the third line, at times getting penalty-kill duty. Eric Nystrom moved from wing to center.

Guys are playing unfamiliar roles, but such is life right now for the Wild, which is playing for an extended period without No. 1 center Mikko Koivu and, for the time being, No. 2 center Kyle Brodziak, who's not on the road trip because of illness.

The shorthanded Wild gave it one heck of a try Thursday night, but the big, fast and healthy Los Angeles Kings, wearing their throwback purples, triumphed for a big 4-2 victory to leapfrog Minnesota in the standings.

"Guys played hard all the way to the end," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "That was a pretty intense, pretty physical game. I'm proud of the way the guys battled. ... We just came up a little short.

"It would have been an easy game to throw the towel in on, but I'm real happy the way they played the game. We weren't perfect by any means, but we tried."

The Kings, who hadn't played at home since Jan. 26 and were coming off a 6-1-3 road trip, moved to fifth in the West, while Minnesota dropped to sixth, sitting atop four other teams all tied with 70 points. The Wild visits Anaheim tonight.

Wayne Simmonds scored two goals for the Kings and Drew Doughty scored the winner 5:39 into the third. Nystrom and Brent Burns scored for Minnesota as Niklas Backstrom, who made 26 saves, allowed more than two goals for only the fifth time in the past 18 games.

The last goal came with Minnesota on its second power play in the waning minutes with the game on the line. With 1:27 left, Richards pulled Backstrom for an extra attacker and 6-on-4 advantage.

Matt Cullen told his wingers he'd tie up center Michal Handzus on the draw. Cullen did, causing a scrum. But the puck went the wrong way ... right to Anze Kopitar, who fired 150 feet dead-center of the empty net.

The complete opposite happened with 4 1/2 seconds left in the second period when Cullen tied up Jarret Stoll, and while fallen on the ice, kicked the puck to Brent Burns for the tying goal.

But that happened in the left circle. This happened in the right, which is where the Wild really missed Brodziak, the Wild's lone righthanded drawman. In the third period, the Kings was 13 of 17 faceoffs. Madden lost 12 of 17 in the game, while Nystrom and Almond won 4 of 12.

The Wild also desperately missed Koivu and Brodziak in the defensive zone, where the gigantic Kings, who pursue pucks and battle for everything, had their way at times.

"[Cullen and Madden] had to push a little bit harder down low in D-zone coverage," Richards said.

The Kings, who have the fourth-best home penalty kill in the NHL, aggressively killed those last two Wild power plays in the final 7:30 and four in the game.

"Our power play wasn't as good as it needed to be in the big moments," Cullen said. "It wasn't there tonight. We didn't execute the way we needed to, especially coming up the ice."

The Kings did coming up the ice on the winner.

Early in the third, the Kings forced a turnover and exploded out of the zone with speed. Still, all things were covered until Doughty, the Kings' hotshot defenseman, lost Madden and buried Dustin Brown's pass from the top of the right circle.

"I got kind of a late jump coming out of the zone," Madden said. "One of their defensemen bumped me and knocked me off balance. So my first couple steps were a little behind Doughty. I knew he was there. I just couldn't catch up to him in time. I thought I had my stick in the right spot. But he quickly snapped it.

"Good play by their part and a missed assignment by me."

But it was especially a "good play."

"That's something you work at hard all year long where you get that drive, drive, drive attitude," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "Stoll drives through the net, backs off the defenseman, Brown comes in late and finds Doughty and executes the play the right way."

With the Wild trailing 1-0 after a one-sided opening period for the Kings, Nystrom tied the score when he fought through defenseman Willie Mitchell and defensive stalwart center Michal Handzus, then lunged forward to poke the puck like a pool ball.

The puck slid underneath Jonathan Bernier for Nystrom's second goal in four games after scoring one in his first 57.

But the Kings took a 2-1 lead on Simmond's pure determination. With the Wild having momentum until one shift earlier, Simmonds hopped the boards and fought through Burns' checking. He dropped the puck for Kopitar on the cycle, cut to the slot, lost Burns, received the pass back from Kopitar and whistled it by Backstrom.

The goal happened at the 10:18. The rest of the period, remarkably, belonged to the Wild.

The team, playing shorthanded, responded impressively by picking up its play, intensity and physicality. Cal Clutterbuck had nine hits in the game, Martin Havlat eight shots.

Minnesota buzzed the Kings' net over and over, but Bernier preserved the lead until a late Doughty interference minor with 10 seconds left led to Burns' tying goal, his 15th to tie his career high and own team record for goals by a defenseman.

It was Burns' first goal since Jan. 22, snapping a 12-game goal drought. The Kings, who had given up 10 power-play goals at home all year, killed 22 in a row at that point.

Still, Cullen felt there were spurts in the game when the Wild played a hard-nosed forechecking, fast style, but "we didn't do it enough."

Now, the Wild heads to Anaheim in a huge game.

"It's the biggest game right now getting two points tomorrow," said Madden.

  • LOS ANGELES 4, WILD 2

    Up next: 9 p.m. today at Anaheim

    Honda Center • TV: FSN (830-AM)

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Golden State 11 1st Qtr 7:21
Cleveland 13
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
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Buffalo 2
Arizona 3 2nd Prd 9:38
NY Rangers 2
Montreal 3 2nd Prd 6:29
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San Jose
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Kennesaw St 53
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Citadel 74
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Drexel 38
Jacksonville St 48 2nd Half 5:53
Eastern Ky 53
Northeastern 51 2nd Half 5:55
Elon 56
Sacred Heart 67 2nd Half 9:50
Fair-Dickinson 69
Western Carolina 35 2nd Half 10:41
Furman 28
Char Southern 52 2nd Half 13:41
Gardner-Webb 61
Western Ill 34 2nd Half 13:20
IUPUI 44
Nebraska Omaha 42 2nd Half 12:53
IUPU-Ft Wayne 51
Radford 50 2nd Half 13:20
Liberty 43
St Francis-NY 32 2nd Half 17:10
Long Island 34
Wofford 50 2nd Half 9:24
Mercer 47
Minnesota 51 2nd Half 12:11
Michigan State 58
High Point 56 2nd Half 12:03
UNC-Asheville 49
Samford 41 2nd Half 13:25
UNC Greensboro 50
Nebraska 41 2nd Half 8:48
Ohio State 57
Wagner 36 2nd Half 13:44
Robert Morris 60
Mount St Marys 36 2nd Half 12:10
St Francis-PA 42
Houston 41 2nd Half 10:48
Temple 45
Vanderbilt 38 2nd Half 11:46
Tennessee 45
Chattanooga 47 2nd Half 10:35
Va Military 48
Milwaukee 36 2nd Half 14:59
Wright State 36
Coastal Carolina 32 2nd Half 13:50
Presbyterian 48
Central Conn St 58 2nd Half 7:40
Bryant 55
Ga Southern 36 2nd Half
Appalachian St 20
SIU Edwardsville 6 1st Half 14:06
Austin Peay 10
Green Bay 13 1st Half 10:04
Ill-Chicago 12
Texas-El Paso 10 1st Half 9:50
Louisiana Tech 18
FIU 13 1st Half 11:12
Marshall 14
Rider 14 1st Half 11:35
Monmouth 7
Eastern Ill 36 1st Half 14:59
Murray State 12
Charlotte 11 1st Half 10:47
North Texas 25
North Dakota St 10 1st Half 7:56
Oral Roberts 26
Old Dominion 18 1st Half 11:07
Rice 10
TX-San Antonio 21 1st Half 8:50
Southern Miss 18
UT Martin 15 1st Half 11:08
Tennessee St 10
Fla Atlantic 19 1st Half 11:14
Western Ky 14
Northern Ariz 16 1st Half 11:14
North Dakota 14
Grand Canyon 16 1st Half 11:42
Chicago State 18
Utah Valley U 6 1st Half 12:50
UMKC 14
ULM 7:25 PM
South Alabama
Texas-Arlington 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
Troy 7:30 PM
Texas State
Georgia State 7:45 PM
Ark-Little Rock
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CS-Northridge
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Idaho
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Santa Clara
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Utah
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San Francisco
Oregon State 10:00 PM
Stanford
Long Beach State 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Rice 68 FINAL
Old Dominion 83
Manhattan 67 FINAL
Monmouth 84
Georgia Southern 39 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Marshall 74 FINAL
FIU 50
TX-Arlington 62 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
ULM 45 FINAL
South Alabama 38
Troy 75 FINAL
Texas State 59
Georgia State 39 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 56
William & Mary 69 2nd Half 7:51
Coll of Charleston 40
Delaware 53 2nd Half 7:28
UNC-Wilmington 47
UMBC 17 2nd Half 17:12
Maine 37
UMass Lowell 51 2nd Half 11:15
Vermont 42
Albany 38 2nd Half 13:41
Hartford 32
Stony Brook 44 2nd Half 12:20
Binghamton 33
Boston College 46 2nd Half 12:00
(8) Louisville 62
(23) Syracuse 42 2nd Half 15:01
Clemson 27
(16) Duke 32 2nd Half 13:30
Georgia Tech 43
Florida 24 2nd Half 16:28
Alabama 30
NC State 33 2nd Half 15:52
(9) Florida State 51
Miami-Florida 48 2nd Half 8:31
Wake Forest 51
LSU 35 2nd Half 11:49
Ole Miss 42
(11) Miss State 33 2nd Half 14:48
(2) South Carolina 45
Fairfield 56 2nd Half 6:59
Iona 56
Marist 43 2nd Half 9:01
Saint Peters 45
Quinnipiac 72 2nd Half 13:20
Rider 24
Virginia 42 2nd Half 15:30
(15) North Carolina 44
Pittsburgh 36 2nd Half 13:03
(4) Notre Dame 65
Ohio State 59 2nd Half 11:47
Penn State 44
Massachusetts 42 2nd Half 12:28
Dayton 52
(22) George Washington 47 2nd Half 13:45
Richmond 40
Saint Louis 30 2nd Half 16:19
Rhode Island 41
Wright State 61 2nd Half 8:32
Detroit 45
Green Bay 51 2nd Half 10:47
Oakland 40
Western Ky 61 2nd Half 12:00
Florida Atlantic 51
Indiana 47 2nd Half 13:25
(5) Maryland 60
North Texas 30 2nd Half 17:47
Charlotte 44
Central Arkansas 31 2nd Half
Sam Houston St 20
SE Louisiana 36 2nd Half
Northwestern St 28
Nicholls 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Incarnate Word 8 1st Half 7:16
Stephen F Austin 14
Denver 14 1st Half 11:52
No Dakota State 16
IUPU-Ft Wayne 7 1st Half 7:59
Nebraska Omaha 19
IUPUI 9 1st Half 12:09
South Dakota 20
Lamar 16 1st Half 12:56
McNeese State 23
Western Ill 13 1st Half 10:33
South Dakota St 20
Missouri 0 1st Half 20:00
(12) Texas A&M 0
(13) Kentucky 7:00 PM
Arkansas
(20) Rutgers 14 1st Half 7:54
(25) Northwestern 18
Southern Miss 6 1st Half 14:28
TX-San Antonio 5
Wisconsin 12 1st Half 13:39
(17) Iowa 17
North Dakota 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
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Southern Utah
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Montana
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Vanderbilt
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San Diego
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Washington
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BYU
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Oregon
(19) Stanford 8:00 PM
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Grand Canyon
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Utah Valley U
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