ST. PAUL, Minn. – Devan Dubnyk made a season-high 38 saves, Minnesota's penalty kill kept up its strong work and the Wild beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Tuesday night to move back into possession of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Erik Haula and Mikko Koivu scored for the Wild, who have killed 15 straight penalties over the last eight games since March 6.
Tyler Toffoli had the goal for the Kings, who lost for the second time in two nights after winning 11 of their previous 14 games.
After losing 5-2 in Nashville to the Predators, who hold the first wild-card spot in the West, the Kings took the ice for another potential first-round playoff preview.
The only team in the conference so far to clinch a postseason berth, their sixth appearance in seven years, the Kings are ahead of San Jose in the Pacific Division by four points. The Sharks have played one fewer game.
The Wild, who have played one more game than the Avalanche with a critical matchup in Colorado looming on Saturday, were thoroughly outplayed over the first two periods. Thanks to Dubnyk and their special-teams units, they had the lead.
Dubnyk, who stopped 60 of 64 shots in shootout wins by the Wild on Saturday and Sunday, improved to 8-1-1 in his last 10 decisions. He gave up three goals in 17 minutes last Thursday before being pulled at New Jersey, but beyond that he has been helping the Wild stay afloat with the rest of their game sputtering plenty.
During a second-period power play for the Kings, Dubnyk saved a low slap shot by Drew Doughty with his glove and fell over from the force of it while doing a butterfly kick-out of his legs. Dubnyk had a big smile on his face as he climbed to his feet, serenaded by one of the many "Duuuuub!" sounds the crowd made.
With about 3 1/2 minutes left, Dubnyk lost control of his stick denying Nick Shore in the crease before diving to stop and smother with his stomach the rebound attempt by Jake Muzzin.
Toffoli pulled the Kings within a goal with his stick-side shot that slipped past Dubnyk with 8:25 remaining before the second intermission for his team-high 27th goal, but the lanky goalie who saved Minnesota's season last year was a bulwark all night between the posts.
The Kings had 23 shot attempts in the first period to a mere four for the Wild, and the tally of on-target tries at the second intermission was 26-12. The first one Minnesota took went in, when Haula stretched his career-best point streak to six straight games with a backhander that eluded goalie Jonathan Quick just 3:46 into the game.
Haula has a career-high 12 goals and leads the Wild with a plus-19 rating.
The Wild failed to register a shot on their first two power plays, but Koivu's deke-snap move with the man advantage early in the second period gave them a two-goal edge. He has 10 power-play goals this season.
The Kings played without left wing Tanner Pearson (personal reasons) and right wing Kris Versteeg (lower body). They called up center Nic Dowd, who played in college at St. Cloud State, for his NHL debut.
NOTES: Koivu has 30 points in 33 career games against the Kings. ... Exactly 10 years ago, current Wild coach John Torchetti took over as interim coach of the Kings after Andy Murray was fired. ... Wild LW Thomas Vanek was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. "He's got his guys he trusts," Vanek said of Torchetti after the morning skate. Vanek went scoreless in 10 straight games before the benching. ... With 47 points, Doughty has the second-highest total of his career. He had 59 points in 2009-10. ... Kings captain Anze Kopitar's streak of six straight games with at least one point ended.