Game 76; 44-26-6
LOS ANGELES – Having won their first five games this month and winning six-in-a-row entering their last contest, the Los Angeles Kings were hoping to end March the way they started it: like a lion. Unfortunately, the visiting Minnesota Wild had other plans.
The home team were the ones who got off on the right foot in this one, though. 6:30 into the first, it was defenseman Alec Martinez who continued his phenomenal month by scoring his 11th of the year and seventh in March to give Los Angeles the 1-0 lead. Anze Kopitar, who fed a streaking Martinez in front of the net, registered the first assist with Justin Williams picking up the second. For Martinez and Kopitar both, it was the 11th time in 15 games this month where they registered at least a point.
The Wild answered in the second as Zach Parise scored a power play goal 3:30 into the frame on Minnesota’s only man-advantage of the night.
But at the 11:49 mark of the same period, Los Angeles regained their lead thanks to Marian Gaborik who, from behind the net, fed Justin Williams in front who one-timed his 19th past Ilya Bryzgalov. Willie Mitchell had the second assist. As for Gaborik, his assist made it points in seven of the 13 games he played with the Kings since coming over from Columbus.
Entering the third, the silver-and-black had lost just once in regulation with a lead in the final 20 minutes. The Wild made sure they would provide a second loss.
3:54 into the third, former King Matt Moulson potted his 22nd past brother-in-law Jonathan Quick to tie the game. Then, just 1:02 later, captain Mikko Koivu slapped his 10th home on a shot Quick probably should have had to give Minnesota their first lead of the night.
Unfortunately for the Kings, they met their defensive match on this night as the Wild held them to just five third-period shots en route to downing them by a 3-2 score.
So, the Kings don’t end March with a win, they fail to inch closer to clinching a playoff spot and franchise win No. 1500 will have to wait. But it was a close, defensive battle that the Kings simply fell on the short end of.
For the Wild, it’s their second-straight win and two very important points to extend their lead in the West’s wild card race.
As for the Kings, it’s a day off before taking part in back-to-back games, beginning on home ice vs. Phoenix on Wednesday night.