LOS ANGELES (AP)Brendan Lemieux scored in his first game back after a suspension and the Los Angeles Kings ended the Minnesota Wild’s eight-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory Saturday night.
Phillip Danault also scored for the Kings, Jonathan Quick made 29 saves, and L.A. swept its two-game homestand.
”I think we’ve come a long way,” Lemieux said. ”We’ve been able to string some wins together in bunches, and now it’s just a matter of finding some consistency and, like I said, win games with our D game and win games tired and win games when the pucks really aren’t bouncing or power plays not scoring or maybe our PK gives up a goal or two.”
Marcus Foligno had a goal for the Wild, who hadn’t lost in regulation since a 5-4 loss at Florida on Nov. 20. Kaapo Kahkonen made 25 saves.
”We had one game tonight and we lost it, so that’s the mentality. It has to be. You can’t be all excited because you won eight and say to yourself, `It was a good run.’ That’s not the mentality we want this year,” Foligno said.
Lemieux was held out of five games for biting Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk on Nov. 27. But he put the Kings ahead 2-1 midway through the third period, using two Wild defenders as a natural screen to score his fifth goal of the season on a wrist shot from the slot.
”That’s what we needed in the third period is a goal like that to push us forward and kill it off at the end,” Kings forward Alex Iafallo said.
Mats Zuccarello had two sharp-angle shots on net with less than 15 seconds to play, but the Kings were able to hold on.
Minnesota and Los Angeles traded goals in the second period. Foligno redirected Matt Dumba’s shot in as the Wild’s power play was about to expire, giving them a 1-0 lead that would last 78 seconds. It was Minnesota’s fifth special teams tally in its past four games.
Danault responded with 5:31 left in the period, putting in his own rebound off Kahkonen’s pad save for his fourth goal.
The Kings played most of the game with five defensemen after Alexander Edler sustained a left leg injury early in the first period. His ankle bent awkwardly when he fell into the boards on a hit by Wild forward Brandon Duhaime, and was unable to put any weight on it as he was helped off the ice.
Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said Edler will be out ”long-term,” depriving the team of a veteran presence who had one goal and 10 assists through 26 games. It will be the third significant injury among Kings defensemen, after Drew Doughty missed 16 games because of a knee injury and Sean Walker out for the season after tearing his ACL and MCL.
Drew Doughty was busy in Edler’s absence, playing a game-high 28:03 with a plus-two rating and an assist. That total could have been higher, had Doughty not taken two trips to the penalty box for interference in the second.
Lemieux’s perturbing ways were seemingly not deterred by his recent discipline, as his manner in skating past the Minnesota bench drew the ire of Foligno.
”Just him being him,” Foligno said. ”Just scores one goal, and comes by our bench and thinks he’s Sidney Crosby out here. … You got to forget about that guy. He’s an agitator, and not a very good one at that.”
NOTES: Wild D Jonas Brodin did not play because of an upper-body injury. Coach Dean Evason said Brodin is ”very doubtful” to play on Sunday. . Wild F Frederick Gaudreau has missed the past six games in COVID-19 protocol but will join the team in Las Vegas on Sunday and could play, Evason said.
Wild: At Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday night.
Kings: At Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.
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