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Kuemper brilliant in spot-start, Wild strip Kings of crown in shootout

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Without top goaltenders Josh Harding (undisclosed sickness) and Niklas Backstrom (abdominal stiffness), Minnesota had to turn to third-string net-minder Darcy Kuemper and his 6.13 goals against average Tuesday against Los Angeles.

Once the puck dropped, Kuemper made Wild fans forget he had allowed six goals on 16 shots this year, as he stood on his head against the Kings to the tune of 39 saves in Minnesota's 2-1 shootout win.

In addition to the 39 stops put up by Kuemper, he also halted L.A. on all four of their attempts in the shootout. The staunch net play on both sides would leave Nino Niederreiter to finish things for the Wild in the fourth-round after the three previous Wild shooters were stopped, going backhand to beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.

The Wild were outshot 40-17 on the game, but Niederreiter was all the offense they needed, as he also supplied Minnesota's only goal in regulation, a third-period lamp-lighter to even the score at one, in addition to the shootout goal.

The win is Kuemper's first of the season and second of his career, and Minnesota's third in a row. They return to the ice Thursday, as they travel a few hours south to face the Coyotes in Phoenix.

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