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Mar 20, 2024 4:02 am

Surging Wild look to continue playoff push at L.A.

Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild are making a hard charge to put themselves into playoff position. A Southern California sweep when they visit the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday would go a long way toward keeping their Stanley Cup hopes alive.

The Wild (34-27-8, 76 points) reach Los Angeles after a 4-0 road victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. Thanks to a 6-0-2 run in a season-best, eight-game point streak, Minnesota sits three points back of the Vegas Golden Knights in the chase for the Western Conference’s second wild-card position.

“We put ourselves in this situation, and we need to find some points somewhere,” said Minnesota goaltender Filip Gustavsson, who recorded a 27-save shutout at Anaheim. “Right now, we’re doing our best to do that.”

Minnesota’s success has certainly been a team-wide success story, but unquestionably forward Kirill Kaprizov is leading the way. Kaprizov has scored in five consecutive games and riding an eight-game point streak in which he has produced 10 goals and four assists.

The Wild’s victory over the Ducks may have come at a heavy price. Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin left the game after falling awkwardly during a board battle with Alex Killorn. Brodin, who is second on the team in average ice time per game, departed the ice without putting weight on his right leg.

“I don’t have an update on him,” Wild coach John Hynes said postgame. “The good thing is he was able to get up and come back (to the locker room). Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.”

The Kings (35-22-11, 81 points) strengthened their hold on third place in the Pacific Division with a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday to open a three-game homestand. Los Angeles owns a two-point edge on the fourth-place Golden Knights, and both teams have 14 games remaining.

“This time of the year, the most important thing is to get the two points,” Kings interim coach Jim Hiller said. “We needed somebody, and we were wondering who that was going to be. Nice to see the big guys, and ‘Kopi’ (captain Anze Kopitar) in particular with the two goals.”

Thanks to his two-goal, one-assist outing, all coming during his team’s three-goal second period that broke open a tie game, Kopitar has collected 1,199 career points.

“We were looking out there for him,” forward Adrian Kempe said of Kopitar. “He had some good looks and it was close (to reaching 1,200). Obviously, look forward to that next game.”

The good sign for the Kings is they have won two of three games. The bad sign for them is the fact both of those victories came against the bottom-feeding Blackhawks. Los Angeles been in a win-one, lose-one cycle over the past nine games.

“All due respect to Chicago, but we’re going to play some better teams at the end of this stretch, and we can’t give a period away,” Kempe said. “It could be a huge, huge difference in the points and all that kind of stuff, so we’ve got to be on for 60 minutes here.”

Expect Minnesota to turn to Marc-Andre Fleury in goal on Wednesday after Gustavsson’s Tuesday shutout. The Kings likely to switch to David Rittich after Cam Talbot played on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

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