Preview: Wild @ Kings 08 Dec 11

THE STORY: The Minnesota Wild have arguably the best goalie tandem in the league in Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding. But with Backstrom out due to a groin injury and Harding having to leave 1:11 into Tuesday’s game with a head injury, Minnesota turned to Matt Hackett to make his NHL debut. All Hackett did was stop 34 shots to help the Wild come from behind for a 2-1 victory at San Jose. Minnesota has won five straight and 10 of 12 to pull into the NHL lead with 39 points. The Wild will continue their five-game road trip at the Los Angeles King on Thursday. The Kings are attempting to play with a similar system to Minnesota’s, with strong blue line play and goaltending supplemented by timely scoring. It hasn’t quite worked lately, as Los Angeles has dropped four of its last six games.

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FSNO (Minnesota), FSW (Los Angeles)

ABOUT THE WILD (18-7-3): No update was offered on Harding following Tuesday’s game and Backstrom remains day-to-day, so Hackett could get the call again against the Kings. The rookie had to stop 15 shots in the first period alone against the Sharks but held strong as Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored to give Minnesota a win. The Wild have won five straight on the road and have scored on the power play in seven of their last nine contests.

ABOUT THE KINGS (13-10-4): Los Angeles ranks last in the NHL in scoring average at 2.3 and has topped out at two tallies in the last six games. The Kings handed Bruce Boudreau his first win with the local rival Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, 3-2. Los Angeles fought back after allowing a pair of first-period goals only to surrender the go-ahead tally with 48.8 seconds left when Bobby Ryan’s shot glanced off Drew Doughty and past Jonathan Quick.

OVERTIME:

1. Hackett’s uncle, Jeff Hackett, tended goal for six different teams in a 15-year NHL career.

2. Wild forward Devin Setoguchi left Tuesday’s game in the first period with a lower body injury.

3. Los Angeles took the first meeting, 5-2, on Nov. 12. Simon Gagne and Justin Williams each recorded two points.

PREDICTION: Wild 2, Kings 1.