LOS ANGELES – With the Wild starting to hit rock bottom and teams closing in fast from behind, the team was in dire need of somebody, anybody to step up Thursday night.
Playing for the second time in 24 hours and against a red-hot Stanley Cup contender, the Wild got a number of big performances during a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings to end a five-game losing streak.
Having entered with four goals in its previous five games and 1.87 per game its previous 16, the floodgates opened against the Kings, at least by Wild standards.
Zach Parise scored a power-play goal — yes, a power-play goal! — Charlie Coyle scored a breakaway goal, Erik Haula scored a shorthanded one and Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves for his second shutout this season and seventh of his career.
“It just shows us we’re a good team,” Kuemper said. “It was just a tough stretch. We can beat everyone in this league. This is a big win for us.”
It was the Wild’s third victory in 11 January games. The slump had the team barely hanging on to the top wild-card spot in the West.
Coach Mike Yeo had spent Thursday morning reminding players that a “couple weeks ago, we were one of the better teams in the league. We haven’t forgotten that. We haven’t forgotten how to do it. We haven’t all of a sudden become a bad team. We’re a good team that’s just in a bad spell.
“We’ve been one of only a small group of teams that have made the playoffs the last three years and every year we’ve had to try to get through something like this and obviously we have to do it again.”
Thursday was a great start vs. a Kings team that had won nine of its previous 12 games.
After a solid yet scoreless first period, Parise ended the Wild’s long power-play goal dearth early in the second with his fifth power-play goal of the season and first in 35 games.
“Relief to get the power play goal, relief to win, relief to play a good game,” Parise said. “We needed this just for our own psyche.”
Yeo, after overhauling his two power-play units the night before at Anaheim, extinguished that tack Thursday.
Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek set up the one-time goal, Parise’s team-high 17th. Pominville took a hit to make a play for his first point in 13 games since Dec. 22, Vanek made a sweet saucer pass for his first assist in the same span.
The power-play goal ended the Wild’s 0-for-25 drought dating to Dec. 28; the 11 games without a power-play goal was a franchise record. It was the Wild’s first power-play goal on the road in 31 tries since Nov. 17. That spanned 13 games, which tied a team record.
“To get our power play going, it was a relief just because it had been all the talk,” said defenseman Ryan Suter, playing on his 31st birthday.
Both Jonathan Quick, who turned 30 on Thursday, and Kuemper were solid throughout the period. Quick stopped Coyle on a breakaway, one in which he made up for later in the period after Kuemper made huge stops late on Jordan Nolan and Milan Lucic.
That last save was gigantic, as it led to a Marco Scandella-to-Coyle breakaway. With 13.6 seconds left in the period, Coyle breezed the shot over Quick’s glove for his first goal in 10 games.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter challenged the pass was offside. It was very close, but veteran linesmen Shane Heyer and Don Henderson ruled it a goal.
That gave the Wild its first two-goal cushion since Jan. 5 at Columbus.
That stretched into the Wild’s first three-goal lead since Dec. 17 early pin the third on Haula’s third career shorthanded goal and the Wild’s fifth of the season, off a feed from Mikko Koivu on a 2-1.