Boy, the Los Angeles Kings are struggling, huh? I mean, when LA can't even earn a win against the St. Louis Blues, you know something is up. The team with a tortured recent history against the Kings finally delivered a beatdown of their own, winning 5-0 on their own ice.
Of course, I'm required to add the disclaimer that the Blues are actually a really good team, sitting comfortably in third place in the Western Conference. But the Kings didn't play as badly as the score indicates, and their first period performance could even be called "good." However, "good" turns to "poor" when penalties bite you in the ass, and the Kings didn't wait long to go to the box. With Matt Greene in the box for a double-minor high sticking penalty, the Blues struck first through an odd goal by Brenden Morrow. St. Louis hadn't gotten a shot on goal in the first three minutes of the man advantage, but after Kevin Shattenkirk's long shot missed the mark, Morrow got the rebound at the side of the net and banked it in off Martin Jones.
After a drop-off in the 2012 playoffs and 2013 regular season, Brian Elliott is right back to his inexplicably unbeatable form, and tonight moved him to 11-1-2. (He's even better than Martin Jones!!!) Elliott weathered a blizzard of Kings shots in the first period and made seven stops on the penalty kill in the first twenty minutes. Jeff Carter came closest to beating Elliott, but his shot eight minutes in hit the post. That was as close as the Kings would ever get to scoring.
No reason for alarm going into the second, but another penalty quickly put LA on their heels. They survived the second PK of the game, but could not hold out after Dwight King took the Kings' third penalty midway through the period. T.J. Oshie (who, as you may have heard, made the U.S. Olympic team) grabbed a fortunate bounce from a Jaden Schwartz shot, and Darryl Sutter reacted... shall we say... strongly. He must have been looking for a spark, because there's no other reason for him to pull Martin Jones for Ben Scrivens in that situation. Jones had exchanged a couple point-blank saves with Elliott just minutes earlier, but the cold Scrivens was now in, and he was beaten on the first shot he faced. Again, it was Oshie. The Blues won an offensive zone faceoff, Oshie picked up the puck and sniped it past Scrivens' glove side, and the Kings were in trouble.
LA had a chance to get back in it with three straight power plays, including two that provided a minute-long 5-on-3. However, every shot LA took was either blocked or missed the net, and St. Louis was sitting pretty heading into the third. The Blues' fourth goal neatly wrapped things up, as Scrivens went behind his net to play the puck...
He didn't get proper coverage or communication from Robyn Regehr and Matt Greene, did he? The Blue along the boards is Magnus Paajarvi, and he intercepted the Scrivens pass and fed Vladimir Tarasenko at the circle. Scrivens actually did get back to his net, but he didn't really have proper time to square up or prepare for the shot, and Tarasenko scored. Barret Jackman added insult to injury by slapping his first goal of the season through the legs of Scrivens a bit later, and Los Angeles limped to their second shutout loss in four days.
So, five straight defeats! All to the Central Division, and the last four at home. Fortunately, Saturday brings a home matchup against the Vancouver Canucks. The Kings had better win, or else... (cracks knuckles in a threatening fashion)
Oh, and judging by this one, U.S. Olympian Jonathan Quick is going to have no trouble getting his place back in net once he's healthy.