After a breakdown to the Kings on Tuesday, its second straight loss, the Wild is hoping a breakup will help the team recover in the rematch Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
Coach Dean Evason has split up the Wild's best line of wingers Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno and center Joel Eriksson Ek – promoting Eriksson Ek up the lineup to work with veteran Marcus Johansson and rookie Kirill Kaprizov. Foligno and Greenway remain united and will be centered by Nico Sturm.
As for the other units, wingers Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala are still with center Nick Bjugstad. And Victor Rask has moved to left wing on a line with center Nico Bonino and winger Ryan Hartman.
"We had tons of opportunities to score last game but only scored one goal," Evason said, referring to the 2-1 setback. "It's an opportunity for us to get a look at some different combinations, not just that one [but] some other combinations, as well. So, we're hoping that the decision that we made will allow us to continue to have those chances to score and bury a few in the net."
Together for the first two weeks of the season, Greenway, Eriksson Ek and Foligno combined for 15 points in seven games – while everyone else on the team has accounted for 32 points. Eriksson Ek has been particularly effective offensively, getting off to the best start of his career with four goals and two assists.
"Lines are goingto change," Evason said. "Lines are changing a little bit here tonight, but clearly Ek's playing extremely well and we just thought it was an opportunity. It is an opportunity now to move him, so we'll see how he looks here this evening."
Although No.1 goalie Cam Talbot skated Thursday morning, he won't dress against the Kings – missing a third straight game with a lower-body injury. Andrew Hammond will back up Kaapo Kahkonen.
"Just getting a light little workout," Evason said of Talbot. "We're hoping that he'll be available to us going forward here."
Zach Parise-Nick Bjugstad-Kevin Fiala
Marcus Johansson-Joel Eriksson Ek-Kirill Kaprizov
Jordan Greenway-Nico Sturm-Marcus Foligno
Victor Rask-Nick Bonino-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy-Ian Cole
2: Consecutive losses for the Wild for the first time this season.
3: Goals for Eriksson Ek in the past four games.
19: Saves for Kahkonen on 21 shots last game vs. the Kings.
199: Career assists for captain Jared Spurgeon.
19: Points for Parise in 32 career games against Los Angeles.
About the Kings:
Los Angeles' victory Tuesday was the second in a row for the team and third in its past four contests. That game was the first time this season the Kings have scored first. They also went a spotless 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. It was the second straight game Los Angeles wasn't tagged for a power play goal. Captain Anze Kopitar's nine assists are tied for the most in the NHL.