By BRIAN HALL The Associated Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Kings’ offense mustered too little too late in the opener of their four-game road trip.
Ryan Hartman scored twice and Filip Gustavsson made 33 saves as the Minnesota Wild edged the Kings, 2-1, on Tuesday night.
Gustavsson, who started the day second in the NHL in goals-against average (2.16) and tied for second in save percentage (92.6%), won for the fourth time in five games as Minnesota won its third straight. The Wild ended a seven-game homestand with points in five of the games.
Hartman’s goal 13 seconds into the second period was the 100th of his career. He has three goals in two games, a good omen with Minnesota clinging to a playoff spot. The Wild are tied with idle Colorado for third place in the Central Division with 67 points.
Pheonix Copley made 18 saves for the Kings, who had won seven of their past nine games. Anze Kopitar scored with 20.5 seconds remaining for the Kings.
“We’re leaving here without any points, but I thought we played a pretty good game,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We played hard. We created a number of chances. I’m sure their goaltender was probably the first star. We just got to find a way to convert, and some nights it doesn’t go your way.”
Two of the top seven teams in the NHL on the power play went a combined 0 for 4 with the man advantage.
Gustavsson has taken over as Minnesota’s top netminder with Marc-Andre Fleury struggling. Acquired from Ottawa for former starter Cam Talbot, Gustavsson made his sixth start in eight games.
After being given the lead by Hartman early in the second, the Swede held steady as the Kings outshot the Wild 14-4 in the period.
“Gust has been unbelievable,” Minnesota defenseman Jake Middleton said. “I don’t know if we can talk about him enough and then even Hartzy today, it was kind of that slow game where the neutral zone was clogged and we scored on our opportunities and fortunately Harts, he had two of them.”
The Kings had scored at least five goals in four straight games.
“We got some good O-zone time,” Kopitar said. “We just couldn’t get it to go. Their goalie played good … give them credit with where credit is due.”
Minnesota appeared to take an early advantage when rookie Adam Beckman seemingly scored his first NHL goal midway through the first. But McLellan challenged the play for offsides. Hartman’s skate was just over the line before the puck and the goal was waved off.
Hartman, who has had a tough season after scoring a career-high 34 goals last season, capitalized with his first of the game off the opening faceoff of the second. He added his second of the game and ninth of the season with 4:48 remaining.
Hartman, who was a mainstay on the top line with Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello last season, was reinstalled as the top center earlier this month. He lost his spot on the top line early in the season, ended up missing 21 games with an upper-body injury, and was a healthy scratch at one point due to his penchant for taking penalties.
“I’m getting a lot more odd-man rushes than earlier in the year,” Hartman said. “We’re getting opportunities to score and shooting opportunities from good areas. So, that wasn’t really the case before.”
The Kings play at New Jersey on Thursday at 4 p.m. PT
We are now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@TechiUpdate) and stay updated with the latest Technology headlines.
For all the latest Sports News Click Here