The Los Angeles Kings are returning home from a successful road trip but one of the blemishes on that trek was a blown lead and a shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild.
With help from newly acquired defenseman Robyn Regehr, the Kings will try for a better performance Thursday night against the Wild, who might get their first chance to skate with Jason Pominville.
Los Angeles (20-13-3) went 3-1-1 over its five-game road swing but fell 3-1 to Phoenix in Tuesday's finale.
"Seven out of 10 (points) is pretty good," forward Anze Kopitar said. "It's not the way you want to finish, but we had some strong games, some character wins. We played a strong game tonight, but we just didn't finish."
In their other loss, the Kings couldn't take advantage of a 3-1 lead over Minnesota on Saturday and fell 4-3 in a shootout.
"It was a sloppy game from us," forward Justin Williams said. "That's certainly not the way we intended to play the game, but somewhere along the way we lost our way and let a team back in a game we had full control of."
Williams will try to extend his goal-scoring streak to five games Thursday while Regehr is hoping for a splendid debut. The defenseman was acquired from Buffalo for two draft picks on Monday night and is being reunited with former coach Darryl Sutter.
Los Angeles needs the help at its blue line with long-term injuries to Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. The Kings are currently sixth in the Western Conference but ninth-place St. Louis is only five points back.
"I'm really happy to be with a team that can win, with a team that has done it in the past and wants to do it again," Regehr said at the Kings' training complex Wednesday.
Minnesota (21-13-2) heads into this game having dropped three of four after winning seven in a row. The Wild rallied from an early two-goal deficit Wednesday in San Jose but gave up the next two scores in a 4-2 defeat.
Before that game, Minnesota acquired Pominville and a draft pick from Buffalo for two prospects and two picks. The former Sabres captain had 10 goals and 15 assists in 37 games this season after producing 30 goals and 73 points in 2011-12.
"I like the way he plays. I think he's going to help us a lot," forward Zach Parise said. "He works hard. I just think you look at the way he's been used. Power play, penalty kill, reliable. He puts pucks in the net, he makes plays, he gets points. I think he plays a really all-around game. That's what we're going to see."
If he makes his debut for the Wild on Thursday, Pominville will try to help them break a tie atop the Northwest Division with Vancouver and avoid a season high-tying third straight loss.
"It's been tough for a couple of games now," goaltender Niklas Backstrom said. "We have a system that works. We have to get back to the details and doing the right thing. We have to be better with the puck and get a chance to play more in their end."
Minnesota hasn't lost three straight since Feb. 1-7 while Los Angeles, 12-4-1 at the Staples Center this season, is seeking to avoid a third consecutive home defeat for the first time since Jan. 12-21, 2012.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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