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Kings lose to Wild, jeopardize chances of taking third in Pacific


The Kings lost a game they needed to win Monday, falling to the Minnesota Wild 3-1 at Arena to muddy the team’s playoff outlook with one game left in the regular season.

The loss, the Kings’ first at home in nine games, leaves them with a one-point lead over Vegas for third place in the Pacific Division. If the Golden Knights defeat the struggling Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday and the Ducks on Thursday, the Kings would fall to the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot and meet the conference’s top-seeded team in the playoffs.

As of Monday, the Dallas Stars — a team the Kings haven’t beaten in three tries this season and been outscored 13-3 — were first in the West.

“I don’t think it matters who we play,” Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson said. “Obviously anyone that’s making postseason is a really good team. Whoever it is, we need to be ready to play, probably with a little more intensity than we had today.”

The Kings (43-27-11) started in control of their own fate: win their final two games and they would finish third, giving them a chance at home-ice advantage if they survived a likely first-round series with the Edmonton Oilers.

The Kings entered Monday with the NHL’s best home record since the All-Star break and the league’s top penalty kill at home. Both those marks took a beating in a poor performance against Minnesota.

“You can describe it a bunch of different ways,” Kings interim coach Jim Hiller said. “Not enough intensity, not enough emotion, not competitive. A bunch of words. And they all mean the same thing. We didn’t have it.

“I don’t like it. It’s not like we didn’t talk about it. It’s not like they didn’t know, like they didn’t talk about it amongst themselves. We all know what the situation is. We just didn’t bring it.”

And the Wild took advantage, with Matt Boldy’s power-play goal late in the first period giving Minnesota a lead it would not relinquish.

With Alex Laferriere in the box for interference, Boldy took the puck from Marco Rossi at the blue line, fought his way past defenseman Matt Roy at the top of the slot, then pushed a shot through the legs of Kings goalie Cam Talbot from just outside the crease for his 29th goal of the season.

Ryan Hartman doubled the lead for Minnesota (39-33-9) with five seconds left in the second period, finishing a two-on-one break with a wrist shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle for his 21st goal.

Kirill Kaprizov made the goal happen by slipping a pass to Hartman to pick up his 50th assist of the season.

Kaprizov then made it 3-0 at 8:25 of the third period, deflecting a shot from behind the goal line off Talbot’s back and into the net for his 45th goal and 95th point.

Blake Lizotte got the Kings on the board with 5:24 to play, but it proved to be too little, too late.

“We’re in a playoff race. That’s that’s the way I see it,” Hiller said. “That can be the only way you approach it because you’ve got to play. You’ve got to want to win every game. Then you’ll let the chips fall where they may; different things can happen.

Talbot stopped 25 shots and Minnesota goaltender Filip Gustavsson made 23 saves.

The Kings did get some good news with captain Anze Kopitar’s return. He sat out Saturday’s win over the Ducks because of a minor injury. It was only the second game he has sat out since the 2020-2021 season.


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