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Dave Campbell / Associated Press, Published April 23 2013

Wild snap home skid, keep playoff hopes alive

ST. PAUL – With their grip starting to slip on a spot in the playoffs, the Minnesota Wild responded with one of their most complete, aggressive performances of the season.

They turned that, just barely, into a critical win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Charlie Coyle and Cal Clutterbuck scored 16 seconds apart late in the first period, helping the Wild break their five-game home losing streak and hang on to beat the Kings 2-1 on Tuesday night.

“I really believe that competitors in games like that find a way to go out and be really good,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “And that’s what we had.”

Jeff Carter’s slap shot whizzed past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom with an improbable 0.8 seconds left before the second intermission, pulling the Kings within one. It was Carter’s 26th goals, tied for third in the NHL. Then as the Kings created some late energy, Slava Voynov’s shot from the far edge of the right circle was stopped by a sprawling Backstrom with 11 seconds remaining in the game to preserve the lead.

With a 3-7-1 record in the last 11 games since this month began and that playoff spot still unsecured, the Wild badly needed a victory. After losing their last two games by a combined 10-2 margin, their hold on seventh place in the Western Conference was tenuous with two games left in the regular season after this.

“The bar has been set, and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to bring at least that the next game,” Yeo said.

Clutterbuck snapped an 18-game streak without a goal.

“This was probably the biggest game I’ve ever played in for this franchise, so I was excited,” Clutterbuck said.

Brown fired up the Wild with a vicious-looking elbow to the jaw of Jason Pominville in the second period that went without penalty and knocked Pominville on his back. He woozily and slowly skated off the ice with a trainer’s guidance and didn’t return to the bench. Yeo said he had no update on Pominville’s condition and declined to comment on the hit. Brown, who had the puck on his stick at the time, said he was trying to brace himself for a hit from Pominville.

The Wild already without one of their top scorers in Dany Heatley for the remainder of the season. Losing Pominville for any stretch would be a significant setback.

“I think we handled it really well, and that’s something to be focusing on,” said Backstrom, who stopped 22 shots. “Grow on that, that nothing rattles us no matter what happens there.”

Los Angeles 0 1 0 – 1

Minnesota 2 0 0 – 2

First period: 1, Minnesota, Coyle 8 (Parise, Gilbert), 16:21. 2, Minnesota, Clutterbuck 4 (Setoguchi, Brodin), 16:37.

Second period: 3, Los Angeles, Carter 26 (Richardson), 19:59.

Shots on Goal – Los Angeles 5-6-12 – 23. Minnesota 13-9-3 – 25.

Goalies: Los Angeles, Bernier. Minnesota, Backstrom. A – 18,825 (17,954). T – 2:23.