LOS ANGELES (AP) – Drew Doughty scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, Wayne Simmonds had two goals, and the Los Angeles Kings returned from a 10-game road trip with a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Jonathan Bernier made 25 saves and Anze Kopitar scored a 170-foot short-handed empty-net goal with 1:14 to play for the surging Kings in their first home game since Jan. 26.
After a late defensive stand ensured their 10th win in 14 games, the Kings edged ahead of Minnesota for fifth place in the bunched Western Conference standings with 72 points to the Wild’s 70.
Brent Burns had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who have lost four of six. Eric Nystrom also scored, and Niklas Backstrom stopped 26 shots.
Doughty scored with 15:21 left on an impressive rush by the Kings. Captain Dustin Brown took a drop pass from Ryan Smyth and found Doughty across the ice for the defenseman’s ninth goal of the season.
Los Angeles then killed two late penalties, including a Minnesota power play for the final 1:59. Kopitar clinched it when he grabbed a loose puck in the Kings’ faceoff circle and fired it the length of the ice into the Wild’s open net.
With timely scoring from Simmonds and a late defensive stand, Los Angeles opened a six-game homestand by splitting the four-game season series with Minnesota after going 6-1-3 on its trip.
During their four weeks away from Staples Center while the busy building was occupied by the Grammys and the NBA All-Star weekend, the Kings pulled their inconsistent season back from the precipice. Los Angeles built on its three-game winning streak right before leaving town, earning 15 points and extending a franchise record-tying streak of 11 consecutive games with at least one point.
Simmonds scored first on a power play during the first period, connecting from the slot for his first goal in 17 games since Jan. 10.
Nystrom evened it with an exceptional individual effort early in the second period, skating through two Kings out of the corner and somehow poking the puck underneath Bernier while most of his teammates were changing. Nystrom has two goals in four games after scoring just one in the Wild’s first 57 games.
Simmonds put the Kings back ahead, hustling to grab a puck in the corner and putting his shot over Backstrom’s blocker. Simmonds’ last multigoal game was Oct. 21.
But Burns evened it with 4.5 seconds left in the period, putting a long shot through traffic moments after the start of a power play.
NOTES: The Kings wore their purple-and-gold vintage jerseys while honoring Bob Berry, the former Los Angeles forward and coach who put together the famed Triple Crown line of Marcel Dionne, Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor in 1979. … C Jed Ortmeyer made his debut with Minnesota. The former Sharks forward was recalled Wednesday to fill in for captain Mikko Koivu, who’s out for a few weeks with a broken left index finger, and C Kyle Brodziak, who didn’t travel to California because of an illness. D Cam Barker also sat out with an undisclosed upper-body injury from Tuesday’s win over Edmonton. … Kings LW Marco Sturm had an assist in his second game back from a 13-game absence with tendinitis in his left knee. … Taylor Swift, Green Bay LB Clay Matthews and Southern California QB Matt Barkley attended the game.
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