LOS ANGELES (AP) Facing Minnesota in Wild’s first game since early February due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Los Angeles Kings understood they had to take advantage of the circumstances.
With goalkeeper Jonathan Quick at the top of his game and some key goals at the right time, the Kings did just that.
Quick made 28 saves, Jaret Anderson-Dolan had a goal and an assist, and the Kings beat the Wild 4-0 on Tuesday night.
“We started the game very strong,” Quick said. “I think in the first period we were clicking, hitting pucks, checking earlier, making the play at the end, and we just continued that play all night.”
Trevor Moore, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty also scored for the Kings, who have won at least one point in four of five games against the Wild this season.
Kaapo Kahkonen made 25 saves for Minnesota, playing for the first time since Feb. 2.
The Wild, which had up to 13 players on the COVID-19 protocol during the two-week span between games, seemed like a slow pace at first. Nick Bjugstad hooked Kings defender Austin Strand in the offensive zone within the first two minutes. That led Anderson-Dolan to put Los Angeles ahead 1-0 with a wrist shot from the left circle at 3:36.
The Kings overwhelmingly controlled the game in the first period, with Doughty hitting the post as part of a 9-3 shooting lead. Even routine plays seemed unfamiliar to the Wild after so much time off, best exemplified by rookie Minnesota forward Kirill Kaprizov, who lost his balance and ended up slipping to his knees to dodge a promising run.
“We’ve been out for two weeks and we have a lot of players out of the lineup, so you’re playing with new players again,” forward Marcus Foligno said. “You don’t want to make excuses, but it’s difficult.”
Minnesota made its way into the game in the second period, generating two early penalties and forcing Quick to make some tough saves. But the Kings were up 2-0 with Moore’s first goal at 12:03. Anderson-Dolan led the break before finding Moore in the slot for a while.
“They finally found their legs and got back into the game and it wasn’t an easy night,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of Minnesota. “We needed some timely goals to achieve them, but we are happy for many people and for the team.”
It was Anderson-Dolan’s second straight game with a goal and an assist. He has five points in his last three games.
Brown made it 3-0 at 4:56 p.m. of the third period, scoring his seventh goal on a pass from Anze Kopitar. Doughty added an empty network at 7:23 p.m.
Foligno hopes Wild will play better as more players return and have more time to practice together.
“The more time you spend on shifts, you feel it, so that’s just conditioning,” Foligno said. “I almost feel like the first game of the season, so I know I’ll be better next game and find my game a little bit more as we go along.”
Quick got the 53rd shutout of his illustrious career; it was his first against Minnesota.
Targeting special teams was one of the tasks McLellan was given when he was hired in April 2019, and he’s starting to see results. Los Angeles has five power play goals in its last three games, and they have scored with a men’s advantage in nine of 14 games this season.
The penalty has also gotten back on track after some bad seasons, something Minnesota knows all too well. The Wild haven’t scored in any of their 21 power plays against the Kings.
BACK TO THAT
Kings defender Matt Roy played for the first time since he suffered a concussion when Wild forward Kevin Fiala registered him against the boards from behind on January 28.
In a match created by Minnesota’s COVID-19 hiatus, Fiala returned from the three-game suspension he received for Roy’s hit against the Kings.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Wild: Minnesota begins a two-game game at the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
Kings: Los Angeles will begin a six-game road trip when it takes on the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.