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Kings/Wild Preview [Game #51]

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Kings Roster Notes (IN) Jonathan Bernier is in goal.  The other lines remain the same. (OUT) Marco Sturm (knee), Scott Parse (hip).

Wild Roster Notes: (IN) Nicklas Backstrom, who has gone 2-1-0 and has a .946 SV% since returning from a hip injury. (OUT) Marco Scandella (concussion), Marek Zidlicky (shoulder), Guillaume Latendresse (groin), Josh Harding (ACL/MCL), James Sheppard (knee).

Hot lately: Matt Cullen has 2 goals and 7 points in his last 5 games.  Mikko Koivu has 3 goals and 5 points in his last 4.  For the Kings, Ryan Smyth has 2 goals and 2 assists during their three game win streak; Jarret Stoll has a goal and 2 assists.  Smyth now leads all Kings with 19 goals.

Special Teams: The Wild have one of the top power plays in the league (21.1%) but so far this year the Kings have killed 7 of 8 penalties against them.  On power plays against the Wild, the Kings have gone 3/18, a little better than their season average of a measly 16.8%.

Special Congrats: Hats off to Andrew Brunette for his 1,000th game.  More at Hockey Wilderness.

The Kings were 28-19-3 at this point last season (59 points).  They're now tied with the Wild at 55, but Minnesota has a game in hand.  Both teams know that February will make or break their chances, so -- as with every Western Conference game nowadays -- expect this to be a dogfight.  Go Kings.