Matt Hackett made 42 saves in his first NHL start and the Minnesota Wild set a franchise record with their sixth straight road victory, beating the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 on Thursday night.
Hackett, the 21-year-old nephew of former NHL goalie Jeff Hackett, made his debut Tuesday night at San Jose and stopped all 34 shots he faced in a relief role. He replaced Josh Harding 71 seconds into the game with a 1-0 deficit and enabled the Wild to pull out a 2-1 win.
Hackett stretched his string of consecutive saves to 65 on Thursday before Dustin Penner converted a rebound of Jack Johnson's shot from a sharp angle to the right of the net at 3:59 of the third period to cut Minnesota's lead to 3-1.
Mikko Koivu, Darroll Powe, Marco Scandella and recent call-up Cody Almond scored for Minnesota, which leads the NHL standings with 41 points and is off to the best start in the franchise's 11-year history at 19-7-3. The Wild have won 11 of their last 13 games, a stretch that began immediately following a 5-2 loss to the Kings on Nov. 12 at Los Angeles.
Trent Hunter also scored for the Kings, who are averaging a league-worst 2.3 goals per game. They were coming off a tough-luck 3-2 loss at Anaheim in which they outshot the Ducks 23-8 in the third period and gave up the winning goal to Bobby Ryan with 11 seconds remaining.
Minnesota was leading 2-0 when center Kyle Brodziak received a 5-minute boarding major and an automatic game misconduct for shoving Kings leading scorer Anze Kopitar into the boards in the right corner of the Los Angeles zone at 4:48 of the second period during a Minnesota power play.
In the previous meeting between the teams, Kings defenseman Alec Martinez drew a 5-minute boarding major from Warren Peters and ended up missing 10 games with an upper-body injury before returning to the lineup for the rematch.
The Wild, who began the game at San Jose with a 16-0 lead in shots on net, outshot Los Angeles 7-0 through the first 5 minutes. Their first official shot resulted in a goal by Koivu, who swooped in behind the net to get the puck and jammed a wraparound past Jonathan Quick's left leg just 24 seconds in after Jared Spurgeon's 45-foot one-timer went wide of the right post.
Powe made it 2-0 during a goal-mouth scramble at 1:25 of the second period. A delayed penalty was about to be called against the Kings when Scandella scored at 16:02 of the period, finishing off a nice passing play with Heatley and Matt Cullen and beating Quick to the glove side from 25 feet in the slot.
Minnesota right wing Devin Setoguchi missed his first game of the season with an injured right leg. Cal Clutterbuck, who was scheduled to move into Setoguchi's spot on a line with Koivu and Dany Heatley, also sat out due to a leg injury. So ninth-year veteran Jeff Taffe made his Wild debut on that line and got an assist on Koivu's goal. Taffe signed with Minnesota as a free agent in June.
Notes: The Kings outshot Minnesota 44-24. ... Niklas Backstrom served as Hackett's backup after missing the previous two games due to a groin injury. ... The Kings, still playing without the injured Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Willie Mitchell and Scott Parse, have scored fewer than three goals in 20 of their first 28 games and each of the last seven. ... Quick stopped Pierre-Marc Bouchard on a breakaway at 13:22 of the first with the Kings down a goal. ... The Wild have started December 4-0 for the first time. ... The Kings have lost three straight games in regulation for the first time since January 17-20 last season. ... Thursday was Kings D Drew Doughty's 22nd birthday. ... Minnesota is Taffe's fourth team in four seasons, including Pittsburgh, Florida and Chicago. ... Hunter's goal was his first with the Kings and his 100th in the NHL.