ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Marcus Foligno teamed for an awkward goal early and played some tough defense late.
Fehr and Jonas Brodin scored their first goals of the season, and the Minnesota Wild won their fourth straight by beating the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 on Thursday night.
Empty-net goals by Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu accounted for the final margin. Devan Dubnyk stopped 23 shots and had an assist.
The Wild had to kill off three power plays to preserve a 2-1 lead late in the third period. The Kings had a man advantage for 6 minutes in a roughly seven-minute span because of back-to-back penalties by Jordan Greenway — the latter 4 seconds after the first expired — and another by Eric Staal.
Foligno and Fehr, who’ve usually been part of the Wild’s second penalty-kill unit, were often put out right away by coach Bruce Boudreau with the Wild down a man.
“You never want to have to kill three in a row like that, but we’re feeling strong with our groups, we’re keeping the same guys together, we’re getting a little chemistry there too,” Fehr said.
For Foligno, it was a confidence boost to get the call from Boudreau.
“That’s something I talked about with him with at the end of last season, wanted to get quicker and help out this team on the penalty kill,” Foligno said. “We use a lot of the star players and that sometimes hinders them when it comes to power-play time or just 5-on-5, so role players can help out with PK and it’s good me and Eric Fehr are doing that.”
Said Boudreau: “The one thing about both of them that I really like is they block shots. So they make it very difficult for the puck to get through.”
Kyle Clifford scored and Jack Campbell had 22 saves for Los Angeles, which has been outscored 29-8 in losing six straight. The Kings have scored two or fewer goals in eight of 10 games, and at 2-7-1, have the second-fewest points in the league, ahead of only Detroit.
“We’re in this business to win. And when you don’t win, it’s not fun. It’s build on the good things you did, but we still got some more detail in our game to get,” coach John Stevens said.
Fehr’s first-period goal exemplified the Kings’ lack of good fortune.
Foligno eluded Sean Walker along the left boards and centered the puck toward the Los Angeles net. Racing down the slot, Fehr was hauled down by Jake Muzzin, but the duo’s momentum carried them to the edge of the crease, where the puck deflected off a sliding Fehr and into the net. Video review confirmed the goal.
“I don’t think it’d qualify as a pretty one, but it worked,” Fehr said. “Luckily, it just hit my stick … and luckily it went in before the net went off.”
“It can’t discourage us. We’ve got to just keep plugging away and turn those bounces in our favor,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said.
Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter had two assists in his 1,000th career game. He is the 325th player — and 109th defenseman — in league history to reach the milestone.
The 51st defenseman in league history to have 500 points and 1,000 games played, Suter earned his 500th point last Friday. His uncle, Gary Suter, had 845 points in 1,145 games.
Los Angeles, which entered the night scoring 1.89 goals per game — second-worst in the league — went without a shot for 12½ minutes in the second period.
Brodin’s wrist shot from the top of the left circle beat a screened Campbell late in the second period for a 2-0 lead.
Clifford pounced on an errant clear by Nick Seeler and beat Dubnyk early in the third.
NOTES: Minnesota scored first for the first time in seven games. … Dubnyk got the second assist on Brodin’s goal and has seven in his career, including three last season. … The plan remains for Los Angeles D Dustin Brown, out all season with a broken finger that required surgery, to return Sunday. … Kings D Paul LaDue was back after being scratched in four straight games. D Derek Forbert was scratched for the first time this season.
Kings: Begin a season-long seven-game homestand against the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
Wild: Host Colorado on Saturday night before a seven-game trip starts next week.
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