Kings Start Strong, Cruise In Shutting Out Wild
LOS ANGELES — Robyn Regehr was intent in making a good first impression with the Los Angeles Kings. Instead, his new teammates made an even bigger impact on the veteran defenseman.
Justin Williams and Jeff Carter scored 98 seconds apart on the first two shots of the game, Williams added a goal on Los Angeles’ first shot of the second period, and the Kings beat the Minnesota Wild 3-0 on Thursday night behind Jonathan Bernier’s first shutout of the season.
Regehr, who joined the defending Stanley Cup champions in a trade with Buffalo on Monday, played for coach Darryl Sutter while with Calgary during the 2003-04 season when the Flames came within one victory of winning the title.
“There was a little bit of nervous energy,” Regehr said. “It’s been a very busy last couple of days and lots of stuff going on, like getting to know new teammates.
“It was nice just to go out there and play. The guys played really hard. We had a great start and jumped on them early.”
Regehr earned an assist on Williams’ second goal. He also blocked two shots and was credited with a game-high six hits.
Williams extended his goal streak to five games, eclipsing his previous best. He picked up a loose puck along the boards in the Kings zone, after a long wrist shot from the right point by Mikko Koivu went wide, and carried it deep into the Minnesota end before putting a wrist shot past Niklas Backstrom‘s stick at 1:29.
Bernier made 23 saves en route to his sixth NHL shutout and first since Feb. 12, 2012 — also against the Wild at Minnesota. The five-year veteran is 9-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average in 10 starts.
“I guess I’ve got a pretty good record against them (3-0-2), but it was actually a pretty easy game for me,” Bernier said. “The guys did an awesome job in front of me, blocking a lot of shots and clearing those pucks. When you get two quick goals like that, it definitely helps the goalie.”
Mike Richards set up the second goal with a pass deep in the right circle to Carter, who got behind Devin Setoguchi and slid his 21st goal through Backstrom’s pads before many in the sellout crowd had found their seats.
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo replaced the six-year veteran with Darcy Kuemper, who faced only four shots the rest of the period.
It was the second time Backstrom was pulled from a game this season and the first since March 5, when he gave up four goals on 17 shots in the first period of a loss at Chicago. It was Kuemper’s first appearance since that game.
“It’s tough for sure to start the game like that,” Yeo said. “We have to eliminate some of the big mistakes we are making. Two goals on line changes, that’s usually something we are pretty strong on. This has been a grueling stretch, but we have a couple of days now and we have to use them the right way — get the rest and get focused on this final stretch.”
Williams made it 3-0 at 3:52 of the second with his 10th goal. He took a long lead pass at the red line from Anze Kopitar and beat Kuemper high to the glove side with a shot from the top of the right circle.
Minnesota lost on consecutive nights for the first time this season, slipping out of a first-place tie in the Northwest Division with Vancouver.
The Wild beat the Kings in a shootout on March 30 and will host them again April 23.
“We owed them,” Williams said. “We had a 3-1 lead in their building and let them come back. We had them on a back-to-back then and we had them on a back-to-back tonight also. But this time we didn’t let them back in the game, mostly because of Bernier’s play.
“I thought we got a little bit sloppy in the second period and toward the end of the first, but I thought we finished the game well.”
Minnesota forward Jason Pominville, who was teammates with Regehr with the Buffalo Sabres before they were traded two days apart this week, also played his first game with his new team.
“We had some good (offensive) zone time, and I think the scoring chances will definitely come for sure,” Pominville said. “I think we can find ways to create a little bit more.”
The Kings, who had just 14 shots, returned from a 3-1-1 trip.
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