What we learned from the Kings’ 4-3 overtime win in Minnesota
The announced crowd of 19,081 was ready to celebrate. Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was about to get his 500th career win.
All was good in the State of Hockey until the Kings scratched out a comeback.
They gave back a two-goal lead and erased a one-goal deficit in the final minute in an 4-3 overtime win at Xcel Energy Center. It was gritty and clutch, not quite like a playoff atmosphere but as intense as it gets for mid-March.
Here’s what we learned:
Kempe and Carter looked good together
Adrian Kempe looked great for most of the night, and at times late he centered Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson, largely out of necessity because Trevor Lewis left the game. Kempe’s trademark is speed and he can also use it in his own end.
“Adrian’s come a long way this year,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “ ... Defensively, we thought he used his speed terrific tonight to skate pucks out of trouble like he did on the winning goal. We need some of these young kids to take a big step. He took a big step tonight.”
The Kings are trying to get Tobias Rieder going
Stevens acknowledged as much when it was revealed that Rieder would play on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Alex Iafallo usually plays on that line but Stevens has moved other forwards up there so they can benefit from Kopitar’s play.
Rieder has had noticeable moments but has been largely quiet recently. It might be a challenge to find the right spot for him. He’s played on multiple lines and has one goal and zero assists in 11 games with the Kings.
Staal can still sling it
At 33, Eric Staal is experiencing a career revival, so his goal wasn’t surprising. But his wrist shot from the high slot, off Ryan Suter’s tape-to-tape pass, was proof that the veteran is still deadly.
He is one goal shy of 40 for his career and is trying to join Gordie Howe as the only players to record 40-goal seasons at least nine seasons apart, with none in between. Staal scored 40 in 2008-09. Howe did it in 1956-57 and 1968-69.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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