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Kings lose this hunger game to Minnesota, 2-1

Wild displays fight in its bid to make the playoffs, while L.A. shows little drive despite pursuing home-ice advantage in the postseason.

April 23, 2013|By Lisa Dillman
  • Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (32) stops a shot by Kings center Jeff Carter (77) during the first period.
Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (32) stops a shot by Kings center… (Ann Heisenfelt / Associated…)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Kings' 16-second breakdown is the short, efficient way of describing their 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild here on Tuesday night.

But it's not the complete version.

The Kings allowed goals by Charlie Coyle and Cal Clutterbuck in the span of 16 seconds in the first period to help determine their fate against Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center. That was exacerbated when they were outworked in the first 40-plus minutes by a team fighting for its playoff life. Minnesota ended a five-game home losing streak.

BOX SCORE: Minnesota 2, Kings 1

Jeff Carter scored the lone goal for the Kings, putting one in just under the crossbar from the slot with eight-tenths of a second left in the second period. It was his 26th goal of the season.

The Kings have not won on the road since March 31, a stretch of five games.

Simply flipping on the switch in the last 15 minutes or so of a game doesn't usually work at this juncture of the season. The Kings almost got away with it, coming close to tying the game in the final 14 seconds when defenseman Slava Voynov was stymied by Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom.

"The first two periods we didn't play," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "They played a good game — they were desperate, they were hungry. We just didn't have any of that.

"We can't win a game … I mean, we've done [it] in the past, where we've played one good period and won a game. But this time of year, it's not going to happen, especially against a team like that."

Speaking of not playing, there is a possibility the Kings could play the Red Wings on Wednesday night in Detroit without their captain.

Brown, who has never been suspended, might face supplemental discipline from the league for his hit in the second period, an elbow to the face of Wild forward Jason Pominville.

The action happened along the boards about midway through the second period, and a dazed-appearing Pominville left the game and did not return. Wild Coach Mike Yeo said they had no medical report on Pominville.

"You hate to see a hit to the head," Yeo said.

Brown said: "I haven't seen it yet. But I had the puck on my stick. He's coming to hit me and I'm just bracing myself, almost the reverse. I don't know, like I said, I haven't seen it."

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, in his brief session with the media after the game, said he was not worried about getting a phone call from the league about Brown's elbow.

"Puck on your stick, pretty tough to do anything else," Sutter said.

The odd twist is that if Brown does not play against Detroit, it could in fact hurt Minnesota, because it is fending off the Red Wings, among others, in the race for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

As for Tuesday night's game, its importance was not merely Wild-centric.

"It was a pretty important one for us too," said Carter, referring to the Kings' pursuit of home-ice advantage in the playoffs.

"We should have been ready, right? We needed these two points. No excuses…. Now it's a really big two points."

The Kings and goaltender Jonathan Bernier shut out the Wild on April 4, and Bernier again was the starter Tuesday. So was it a different Wild team or a different Kings team?

"No disrespect to them or discredit, but we did not play our game," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "We can't kid ourselves. We've got to be a lot better."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa


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