LOS ANGELES – The Wild blew a two-goal lead Saturday afternoon and gave up four goals for the fifth time in six games, so Bruce Boudreau wasn’t in a celebratory mood after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
He didn’t jump for joy that Zach Parise’s last-minute power-play goal forced overtime and earned the Wild a point that assures the best first half in franchise history. He wasn’t ready to rejoice in the fact that the point means the coach of the team with the best points percentage in the Western Conference (.697) will coach in his first NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 29 back here at Staples Center.
No, Boudreau said, after the Wild’s seven-game road winning streak ended, “I would rather have the other point. Those are good accomplishments for one minute or one day, and everybody forgets about them. There’s only one accomplishment that you really want to get that people remember, and that’s the final one. That’s the one that counts.”
And, frankly, as good as the Wild has been the past six weeks, Boudreau knows his team must return to defending and checking better immediately.
The Wild might be 4-1-1 in its past six games, but it has allowed 22 goals in that span.
“I don’t like the trends that are happening in the last six games,” Boudreau said. “If we want to be a legitimate good team, we’ve got to correct these things.”
Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle delivered the Wild a 2-0 lead by the 7:27 mark of the first period. Perturbed L.A. coach Darryl Sutter called timeout, and the Kings and Wild emerged different teams.
“Two goals off the bat, we’ve got to stay on the pedal there and just throw everything [at the net],” Coyle said. “Maybe it’s a different story if we do that.”
The Kings controlled the final 10 minutes of the first period, then dominated the second by scoring twice on 17 shots aimed at Darcy Kuemper.
Jeff Carter is second in the NHL with 22 goals, but Carter’s short-side shot deflected in off Kuemper’s glove. Then, Wild all-time leading goal scorer Marian Gaborik, who had one goal in 17 games, cut inside of Ryan Suter and took a shot that rebounded off Kuemper, then off Suter’s shield and in.
With the Wild looking to regroup, Jared Spurgeon took a cross-checking penalty seven seconds into the third and Los Angeles defenseman Jake Muzzin scored the go-ahead goal on the ensuing power play.
The Wild struggled to create much the rest of the way. In fact, with 2:25 left, the Wild had only two shots in the period. But on the Wild’s third power play in 10 ½ minutes and with Kuemper pulled, Eric Staal fed Parise in front with 43 seconds left for his second goal in two games.
“One point’s still a lot better than none,” Kuemper said.
The Wild got only one because Tanner Pearson beat Jason Zucker to the net with 1:28 left in overtime and redirected Alec Martinez’s pass for the winner.
“The silver lining is I guess it’s good we get that point, but it was a tough game,” Parise said.
The Kings forced the Wild into several turnovers, controlled the wall, got pucks deep and didn’t allow the Minnesota much chance to establish sustained pressure. Boudreau, who started Nino Niederreiter on his off wing, scrambled the lines to get everybody back to their natural positions in an effort to spark things.
“We stopped playing after they called the timeout,” Boudreau said. “We just sort of said, ‘Hey, let’s defend the lead,’ and for the next 32 minutes, we were in our zone.”
Still, the Wild is 7-0-2 in its past nine road games and has snagged points from 19 of its past 21 games overall (15-2-4).
And, Boudreau gets to return to L.A. for All-Star Weekend.
“It’s a good reward for our coach,” Parise said. “It really says a lot about how we’ve been playing. We’ve got a long ways to go, but we’re doing a pretty good job so far.”