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Wild gain valuable point in shootout

By Michael Russo

McClatchy News Services

ST. PAUL, Minn. — We’re seeing it most nights now in the West.

With 15 teams still believing they are in the playoff hunt, they are almost scared to take a single chance in tight third periods for fear of losing a point in the standings.

That was the case Tuesday night when the Wild fell, 2-1, to the Los Angeles Kings in a shootout.

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"It’s tough to open up your game when both teams need points," said goalie Niklas Backstrom. "It’s 1-1 in the third. You want to make sure you get that one point. I think (the Kings) had the same (mentality). You don’t want to risk anything."

The Wild, which has points in four consecutive games (2-0-2) but failed to win three in a row for the first time since mid-November, would have loved that second point. But the one was valuable.

Minnesota moved up one spot in the West to seventh, putting itself in a four-way tie (65 points) with eighth-place Dallas, ninth-place Anaheim and 10th-place Edmonton.

The Kings, 8-2-1 in their past 11 on the road, are sitting in 12th, five points back from that logjam.

"Points are valuable for both teams," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "But right now they’re in the (seventh) spot. They’re in. Staying there is what they need to think about. For us, we need to get there, and points and wins are important for us."

That’s why both teams played it safe in a tight third. Backstrom and Kings rookie Jonathan Quick each only faced one legit scoring chance — Backstrom denied Derek Armstrong with a glove and Quick turned away Andrew Brunette after he wheeled around Drew Doughty.

In the shootout, Doughty beat Backstrom for what became the shootout winner after Brent Burns couldn’t tie the shootout.

After Antti Miettinen extended the shootout with a goal, Doughty actually lost the puck before it trickled between Backstrom’s pads.

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"We needed a break somewhere, even in the shootout," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We started the game well. We’re on the puck, the guys were skating, hitting. I thought we played really well. The thing is, the offense."

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