Kempe’s second goal of game lifts Kings past Minnesota 7-6
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Adrian Kempe’s second goal of the night broke a tie in the third period as the Los Angeles Kings recovered after giving up a two-goal lead and beat the Minnesota Wild 7-6 Saturday night for their first win of the season.
Kevin Fiala added a goal and two assists in his return to Minnesota. Gabriel Vilardi, Drew Doughty, Alex Iafallo and Matt Roy also scored for the Kings, starting a five-game road trip. Cal Petersen stopped 29 shots.
“I haven’t been in a game like that I don’t think in my career. I’m glad I can check that one off the box with a win. Hopefully never have to win one like that again,” Petersen said.
Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists and Kirill Kaprizov scored his first goal of the season for Minnesota, which has allowed 14 goals in losing its first two games. Jake Middleton, Marcus Foligno, Joel Eriksson Ek and Sam Steel also scored.
“Sometimes we play defense like we’re a … junior team. It’s the whole team. We’ve got to sharpen up,” Zuccarello said.
Filip Gustavsson made 17 saves — and added an assist — after replacing Marc-Andre Fleury to start the second period. Fleury gave up four goals on 14 shots in the first.
Zuccarello and Steel scored less than two minutes apart to tie the score 6-all in the third, but Kopitar found Kempe charging down the slot and his shot bested Gustavsson at 8:03 of to silence a suddenly raucous capacity crowd.
Thirteen Wild players and 11 Kings had points in the highest scoring game of the young NHL season.
“That’s a really hard game to explain. I’m not sure that we’re going to give six goals up and win a game again this year,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.
A casualty of Minnesota’s salary cap issues, Fiala was traded to Los Angeles in the offseason after establishing career highs in goals (33), assists (52) and points (85) while playing in every Wild game last season. In 215 games with Minnesota, Fiala had 79 goals and 107 assists, both team bests in that span.
Fiala, Kempe and Anze Kopitar combined for nine points as the top-line trio continues to mold into a unit. They had a combined two assists in the first two Kings games, both losses.
“Sometimes you feel better than other days and today I felt pretty good from the start,” Fiala said. “Obviously a little more motivated playing against them, my old team, but it was good. A good first step in our direction and myself as well and now we just have to build from it.”
Showing their potential prowess on a second-period power play, Kopitar passed to Kempe in the slot. His touch pass went to Fiala, who beat Gustavsson on a one-timer for a 5-3 lead.
Kaprizov scored on the power play three minutes later to get the Wild within one, but a wrister from Roy went through a screen and found the net less than a minute later to restore a two-goal cushion.
Kempe, Vilardi, Doughty and Iafallo scored in the first period as the Kings opened a 4-2 lead. Middleton and Foligno scored the Wild goals.
No Minnesota defender was nearby on the Kings’ first three goals and Iafallo’s slap shot handcuffed an unscreened Fleury late leading to Wild fans booing their team off the ice after the first period for the second straight game.
“I’d boo myself,” Fleury said. “I was not good. I feel bad for the fans. I feel bad for my teammates. I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to step up and give our team a chance to win. I think there’s some tough goals. A few of them. Still, I’ve got to make some saves. Especially the stupid last one there.”
In four periods, Fleury has allowed 11 goals on 49 shots with a .775 save percentage.
Scoring once in eight tries in its first two games, Los Angeles was 2 of 6 on the power play. Minnesota was 3 of 6.
“The best penalty kill we can have is not being in the box. We were in the box six times from the start of the second period on. That’s a terrible recipe for success,” McLellan said.
Midway through the second period, Freddy Gaudreau replaced Ryan Hartman between Kaprizov and Zuccarello on Minnesota’s top line. Hartman played with Matt Boldy and Steel.
“Everybody didn’t play well or else we would have not given up seven goals. So we’ll make some decisions as far as putting our lines together and hopefully we find the right combinations,” said coach Dean Evason.
Kings: At Detroit on Monday night.
Wild: Host Colorado on Monday night.
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