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Kings can't overcome mistakes in overtime loss to Wild

Minnesota scores both of its goals in regulation off errors by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, and Brent Burns' power-play goal in overtime wins it for the Wild.

December 11, 2010|By Kevin Baxter

Here's how desperate the Kings have become for offense: Saturday they traded for a guy with two bad knees who hasn't played a game since last spring. And their first question was when can you get here?

The answer was Monday, which meant Marco Sturm was of no use to the Kings in Saturday's mistake-filled, 3-2 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Errors by goaltender Jonathan Quick set up both Minnesota goals in regulation and Brent Burns scored the game-winner on a power play with 2:10 left in the extra period. But this loss could just as easily be laid at the feet of an offense that has scored more than two goals only twice in the last eight games, falling to last in the Pacific Division in scoring.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the Kings had a season-high nine power-play opportunities Saturday and scored on only one of them -- failing even to get a shot in their final four minutes with a man advantage.

"It's a concern," Kings Coach Terry Murray said of his offense's absence. "You've got to score. You've got to find a way to win those games when you have that opportunity. And it carries over to your power play.

"We've got to find a way to get it done."

Saturday the Kings helped the Wild put the puck into the net as often as they managed to get it by Minnesota goalie Jose Theodore.

The game wasn't even three minutes old before Quick made his first mistake, coming well out of the net to clear a loose puck. But his pass landed on the stick of Minnesota's Mikko Koivu, whose short-handed goal gave the Wild a 1-0 lead.

Dustin Brown briefly knotted the score for the Kings midway through the second period, wristing home the rebound of an Anze Kopitar shot. But nine seconds later Quick made another huge error, going behind the net in pursuit of another loose puck. This time it bounced off his stick directly to Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck, who tapped it into the unattended goal for a 2-1 Wild lead.

Murray was clearly upset with his goaltender afterward, though he said he never considered pulling him.

"Those are not fluke plays. Those are giveaways," he said of the two Minnesota scores. "A puck on your stick, that's concentration, that's making the right play, the right decision with the puck."

Said Quick: "Everyone makes mistakes. It happens. It's part of the game. I've got to be better."

The Kings pulled even again 69 seconds into the final period when Ryan Smyth, perched alone at the post on the left-wing side, deflected a beautiful pass from Kopitar behind Theodore and into the net for a power-play goal.

After Antti Miettinen was given a double minor for high sticking Brown with 8:04 left in regulation, the Kings couldn't even get a shot off on the four-minute power play.

"It's really about the right decision-making," said Brown, who had a goal and assist. "Sometimes we're making a difficult play when there's an easier play available. Some of the best power plays are just get [the puck] to the point and hammer."

That's what Minnesota did in overtime. After Kings defenseman Drew Doughty went off for interference 71 seconds into the extra period, the Wild peppered the Kings net until Burns got the game-winner on a slap shot from directly in front of the goal.

Which brings us back to Sturm, who has scored more than 20 goals in a season seven times in his NHL career.

He might be a couple of more weeks away from helping the Kings since first he has to pass a battery of medical exams, which will focus on his surgically repaired knees.

"There's still a significant hurdle here," Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said of Sturm, who tore ligaments in his left knee in the 2008-09 season and injured his right knee during the second round of the playoffs last spring.

Sturm began skating again about two weeks ago, so even if he passes his physical Lombardi doesn't expect to see him in the lineup until Christmas week.

Murray, for one, can't wait.

"His resume is pretty good," he said. "He has put some pretty good numbers up in his career. He's a well-rounded player. Plays in all situations. A lot of speed, a lot of quickness. He's going to put a lot of pressure on defending teams."

That's something the rest of the Kings haven't done nearly enough of lately.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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