Both the Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings come into Thursday’s game in LA having clinched playoff berths. The Kings clinched their spot when St. Louis lost to Chicago on Wednesday night.
The Kings (44-28-8) have won both meetings with the Wild this season, first a 5-2 victory in LA back in December and then an overtime win in St. Paul. The Wild (44-26-10) are coming off a 3-1 loss on Wednesday in Anaheim, a team that clinched a playoff spot with the victory. Matt Dumba scored the lone goal for the Wild.
Though he isn’t expected to make his NHL debut Thursday, defenseman Louie Belpedio signed his entry-level contract and joined the Wild on the West Coast for their road trip. The 21-year-old played 10 games with the Iowa Wild when he signed an amateur tryout after his senior season playing for Miami of Ohio.
Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin needs just one more point to reach 100 for his career. Charlie Coyle has a goal and an assist against the Kings this season, leading the Wild. Mikko Koivu leads the team with 34 points against the Kings in 38 career games.
Wild defensemen rank third in the NHL with a total of 190 points (a franchise record). Nashville leads with 201 and San Jose is second with 193.
Anze Kopitar leads the way for the Kings with 35 goals, 56 assists and 91 points. No other King is even close to Kopitar; second place in points goes to Drew Doughty, but he has just 59 points. Veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick is in net for the Kings with a 32-27-3 record.
While the Wild’s penalty kill is a perfect 20-for-20 over the past seven games, the Kings’ kill is ranked third in the league at home and second overall (39 goals in 258 attempts). Both team's power plays rank middle of the pack.
The Wild will see familiar faces in Christian Folin, Torrey Mitchell and Minnesota natives Jonny Brodzinski (Ham Lake) and Derek Forbort (Duluth).
It’s the finale of back-to-back games for the Wild. They’ve gone 5-7-2 on the second night. This 82-game season has had a total of 15 back-to-back sets. The Wild are also 5-1-3 in their past nine games against the Kings.
Luke Kunin (ACL tear in left knee), out for season, 14 games
Jared Spurgeon (right hamstring tear), 10 games
Gustav Olofsson (upper body), 3 games
Ryan Suter (right ankle fracture), out for season, 2 games
Total man games lost: 143 games