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Wild bounce back with win over KIngs

The SportsXchange

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In this condensed NHL schedule, where back-to-back games are more the norm than the exception, the Minnesota Wild are getting the hang of this "two-games-in-two-nights" thing.

Twenty-four hours after their seven-game win streak was snapped in Dallas, the Wild rallied from two goals down for a 4-3 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings. Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Matt Cullen scored in a shootout for the Wild, who are now 4-2-0 in the second night of back-to-back games.

"All I can say is just huge amounts of character," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's back-to-back games, they're sitting here waiting for us, down 3-1 against a team that doesn't give you much and you've got to fight for every inch that you get on the ice, so just a great job by our guys."

Mike Richards had the only shootout goal for the Kings, who saw a 3-1 lead slip away. Parise, Cullen and Charlie Coyle had regulation goals for the Wild, who have won eight of their last nine. Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams had goals for the Kings in regulation.

"We got away from our game," Williams said. "We had far too many turnovers in the neutral zone and at the offensive blue line. Especially against a team that played last night ... We let them off the hook and as a result they got back in the game."

Los Angeles struck first, taking advantage of the game's first power play. Brown corralled a loose puck in front of the Minnesota net and snapped a rising wrist shot past Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom for the Kings' captain's 14th goal of the season. Minnesota answered not long afterward, when Cullen's long-range rocket eluded Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.

The Wild started the second period on a power play but could not convert. By contrast, the Kings' power play improved to two for two early in the second period when Carter got his team-best 19th goal of the season, shooting from the top of the right circle while Jarret Stoll screened Backstrom.

Williams doubled the Los Angeles lead midway through the game, blocking a slap shot by Minnesota defenseman Clayton Stoner at the blue line, then going coast to coast on a breakaway and beating Backstom with a low shot.

But the Wild weren't going away, and pulled back within a goal before the second period was over. Coyle couldn't cleanly handle a setup pass from Koivu in front of the Kings net, but Coyle was able to keep the puck in front of him and from his knees swatted it past a diving Quick. It was Coyle's fourth career goal.

Minnesota's power play finally clicked well enough to forge a 3-3 tie, when Koivu fed Parise at the left of the net, and Parise lifted a high shot over a sprawling Quick. It was the 15th goal of the season for Parise, and his sixth power-play goal. He leads the Wild in both categories.

"He puts pucks right on your tape and gives me two or three good scoring chances a game, so for a winger that's a nice centerman to be playing with," said Parise, gushing about Koivu's playmaking skills.

Quick finished with 25 saves for the Kings, who play in Dallas on Sunday night. At the end of the shootout, Quick broke his stick in frustration and had little to say afterward.

"You're up 3-1 and you give up two points. That's not what you want to do," Quick said.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter left the arena without talking to the media.

For the Wild, Backstrom had 28 saves. Minnesota plays host to St. Louis on Monday.

NOTES: Defenseman Brett Clark, signed by the Wild as a free agent on March 13, finally made his debut in a Minnesota uniform on Saturday. Clark, 36, played the previous two seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning and was skating for Oklahoma City in the AHL when the Wild acquired him. He was paired with Tom Gilbert on the blue line. ... Wild tough guy Zenon Konopka's sister Cynthia sang The Star-Spangled Banner before the game. ... Kings right winger Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game. Penner has two goals in 24 games and has been the subject of some trade rumors. ... While the Wild were losing 5-3 in Dallas on Friday night, the Kings were already in Minnesota, having arrived in the early hours of Friday morning, after a 4-2 win on Thursday night in St. Louis. ... Cullen's first-period goal for Minnesota was his third in the past four games.
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