The Minnesota Wild hope that having pulled off a big trade on Wednesday can help them avoid their first three-game slide in over two months on Thursday night as they visit the Los Angeles Kings.
The Wild have followed up a seven-game winning streak with setbacks in three of their last four games. That includes consecutive defeats to St. Louis and San Jose, giving Minnesota back-to-back losses for the first time since Feb. 12-14. It hasn't dropped three in a row since Feb. 1-7.
Despite the recent slide, the Wild are still tied with the Vancouver Canucks atop the Northwest Division with 44 points, but hold the current tiebreaker with two more victories. The Canucks host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
Minnesota had a big offseason with the signings of forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. It continued to stock up on talent before yesterday's trade deadline, acquiring forward Jason Pominville from the Buffalo Sabres along with a 2014 fourth-round draft pick for goaltender Matt Hackett, forward Johan Larsson, a first-round draft pick in 2013 and a second-round pick in 2014.
Pominville recorded 10 goals and 15 assists in 37 games with the Sabres this season. In 2011-12, he had 30 goals and 43 assists while being selected to the NHL All-Star Game.
Parise called Pominville a hard worker with an all-around game who can score goals.
"It's really exciting for us," Parise said. "It just gives you the sense that they believe in the way we've been playing and they believe in our team. Now it's up to us to elevate our game even more. That addition gives us a good look and a lot of good offensive players."
Pominville did not have enough time to make his Wild debut in last night's game with the Sharks and center Matt Cullen also missed the game with a lower body injury. That left Minnesota a little shorthanded in a 4-2 loss and things got worse when forward Dany Heatley appeared to suffer a wrist injury after trading punches with San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic as time expired.
Heatley, whose current status is unknown, and Charlie Coyle scored goals and Niklas Backstrom ended with 29 saves.
"We have to get back to the details and doing the right thing. We have to be better with the puck and get a chance to play more in their end," Backstrom said.
The Kings are sixth overall in the Western Conference with 43 points, just one point back of the fourth spot. They are set to play back-to-back games at home following a 3-1-1 road trip that ended with Tuesday's 3-1 setback to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Justin Williams scored the only goal for the Kings and Jonathan Quick surrendered three goals on 30 shots to take the loss.
"Not the way we wanted to finish, but we had some strong games, had some character wins," Kings forward Anze Kopitar said of the road trip, which included wins over Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas.
The Kings have split their four-game series with the Wild in each of the previous three seasons. Minnesota took the first of three encounters this season with a 4-3 shootout win at home on March 30.