NHL: Fresh off big opening win, Kings face recent nemesis Wild


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The Los Angeles Kings haven’t forgotten their dismal record against the Minnesota Wild last season, when they lost six of the eight meetings, and they won’t bother making excuses.

Instead, the Kings are focused on getting off to a good start against the Wild on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

The Kings have already accomplished something they hadn’t done since 2017-18, winning their season opener on Thursday night, a 6-2 victory against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights.

The veterans led the way for the Kings. Anze Kopitar collected three goals and two assists, Drew Doughty added a goal and three assists, and Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist.

Brown is in his 18th season, Kopitar his 16th and Doughty his 14th. They have spent their entire careers with the Kings.

Now it’s all about the Wild, who won their season opener on Friday night against the host Anaheim Ducks when Marcus Foligno scored with 7.2 seconds left for a 2-1 decision.

“Great win,” said Wild forward Kevin Fiala, who also scored. “Character win.”

Foligno said of the decisive play, “I knew time’s ticking down, so I didn’t really want to move from the net. I thought I might have had more body position if I kind of did a spin-o-rama, and I just got lucky.”

Minnesota opened last season against the Kings and rallied from a 3-1 deficit inside an empty Staples Center to win 4-3 in overtime. The Wild repeated the same pattern two nights later in another 4-3 overtime victory.

Minnesota beat the Kings 4-3 in yet another overtime game last season when Matt Dumba scored with 0.3 seconds left in Saint Paul, Minn.

Of the two victories by the Kings against the Wild last season, one was a 4-0 rout in Minnesota’s first game back following a two-week shutdown in February because of a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak.

“We competed hard against that team last year,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of the Wild. “Some of the games were odd.”

McLellan will rely on his veterans to keep the team from feeling too confident following their one-sided win against the Golden Knights, who have advanced to at least the league semifinals in three of their first four seasons.

“They should be able to keep things at an even keel,” McLellan said of his veterans. “We’ll try to do that as a staff. The trick is to manage the workload on off days, that you’re practicing with a purpose and preparing the team, without burning the team out, and every player is different. The workload in practice varies, and it will throughout the season.”

The Kings undoubtedly will keep close tabs on Minnesota winger Kirill Kaprizov, who had six goals and three assists in the eight games against the Kings last season.

Kaprizov assisted on the Wild’s first goal Friday night.

The Wild likely will start Kaapo Kahkonen in goal after Cam Talbot made 28 saves in the win against Anaheim on Friday.

Kahkonen started four of the matchups against the Kings last season and went 2-2 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.

–Field Level Media


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