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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Kings: Jonathan Bernier steps in and shuts out Wild

By Dan Arritt

Kings 4, Minnesota Wild 0

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Kings back-up goalie Jonathan Bernier made his first start in three weeks and used the time wisely, stopping 26 shots to earn his first shutout of the season and fifth of his career in the victory at XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

THE STAT: With 18 games remaining, the Kings remain in 10th-place in the Western Conference standings but now have the same number of points (70) as eighth-place Dallas and ninth-place Colorado.

TURNING POINT: The Kings scored 44 seconds into the game on their first shot on net. Rookie defenseman Slava Voynov took a shot from the point and it deflected off Justin Williams and through the legs of Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom. They scored their second goal at the 9:39 mark of the opening period when Williams won the puck on the forecheck behind the Wild net. The puck came out to Anze Kopitar who spotted Dwight King in front of the crease and he one-timed it past Backstrom for a 2-0 lead on the Kings' fourth shot on goal.

HOT: Kings captain Dustin Brown continues to elevate his game ever since he was mentioned in trade talks last week. With two assists against the Wild, he has five goals and four assists in the last five games.

NOT: Kings second-year forward Kyle Clifford was a healthy scratch for the first time since early in his rookie year last season. Clifford managed one point in February, a goal Feb. 7 in a 3-1 victory at Tampa Bay. Probably more discouraging is his minus-2 rating for the month, which dropped him to minus-7 for the season.

GOOD MOVE: Brown’s second assist came on a beautiful pass from the left side of the net, past a Minnesota defenseman and onto the tape of Kopitar, who scored from two feet away for a 3-0 lead.

BAD MOVE: Nursing a four-goal lead in the third period of a must-win game, the Kings got a little sloppy with their sticks, getting called for hooking and slashing penalties in the final eight minutes, which put the Wild on the power play and gave them a chance to get back into the game.

NOTABLE: The Kings took a season-low 15 shots on goal but are now 3-1 when taking 20 or less … Kings forward Jeff Carter, acquired in a trade with the Blue Jackets last week, went his third straight game without a point for the Kings … L.A. finished 5-7-2 in February.

NEXT UP:  Saturday vs. the Ducks at Staples Center.