The Wild Beat
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The power play was in position to succeed.

Just after center Joel Eriksson Ek's game-tying goal in the third period, an unsuccessful coach's challenge by the Kings gave the Wild the man advantage -– a perfect chance for the team to capitalize on its newfound momentum and wrestle the lead away from the Kings.

But like it has throughout the season, the unit couldn't deliver -– an eyesore in a close, 2-1 loss Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.

Overall, the power play is 2-for-30 this season and ranks 29th in the NHL at 6.7 percent after going 0-for-3 against Los Angeles.

"Obviously it could have won us not only tonight, but it's had the opportunity to give us an opportunity to win games right from the start of the season," coach Dean Evason said.

Similar to previous games, the Wild gained the zone, flung the puck around and put shots toward the net –- albeit only four actually tested Kings goalie Calvin Petersen –- but execution remains an issue.

"I don't want to sound like a broken record, but our chances on those power plays were tremendous," Evason said. "Our puck possession, our movement, our opportunities were real good. … I guess if we could do something it would be probably to get more pucks to the net so there's some other opportunities there around that slot area."

This wasn't the same Kings squad that faded to the Wild in Los Angeles twice in the first two games of the season.

They were tighter in their own end, relentless at times when the Wild was hurling pucks toward the net, and they were opportunistic up front -– especially when the Wild's structure wobbled.

The improvement was a reminder that what happened in the past isn't necessarily a preview of what's to come when teams connect again during a division-only schedule.

"With ourselves, too, we try to change each time we play a team," captain Jared Spurgeon said. "We can make adjustments throughout the game. At the start, you have to see what the other team's doing and go from there. We had a game plan, and I think by the end it's not always the prettiest with the way you have to come through the neutral zone against them.

"There's a lot of chipped pucks, a lot of dumped pucks, but that's what you have to do. You can't be turning pucks over or else they're coming back at you."

The Wild had a particularly tough time getting through the Kings to the offensive zone in the first period, when Los Angeles gave up only six shots on net. As the game progressed, the Wild had more face time with Petersen but the Kings were still buzzing around the crease making life difficult for the Wild offense.

"They were doing a good job of boxing out," Spurgeon said. "You're not coming in with control of the puck. You're fighting for it every single time, so it's sort of a scramble right off the start. But we got to find a way to get in there and bang away or getting shots through from the 'D' as well to create those rebounds."

The line that had steady pressure on the Kings as the Wild vied for the go-ahead goal was the Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno trio -– easily the Wild's most effective line this season.

Eriksson Ek scored his team-leading fourth goal on a workmanlike effort, shoveling the puck around the net before pushing it between the post and Petersen.

Overall, the line has combined for 15 of the 47 points earned by Wild players this season -– nearly a third of the output.

"We are all on the same page just trying to work hard, use our body," Eriksson Ek said. "We know what we need to do to help each other, to be successful. We try to talk a lot, see how the other guys are thinking and just building, working hard, just trying to be around the net and get some pucks in there."