Blues @ Kings Recap: LA (Mostly) Controls St. Louis in 3-2 Win
Tyler Toffoli's two goals lead a very strong overall effort by the Kings, though some late-game struggles make their ninth straight home win over St. Louis closer than it should have been.
So, the Los Angeles Kings beat the St. Louis Blues. Again. Was it a foregone conclusion? Not exactly... though it sure seemed like it after 50 minutes. Let's break it down.
The Kings allowed the Blues the first two shots of the game when Anze Kopitar took a holding penalty just 18 seconds in. They responded with an utterly dominant ten minutes in which they outshot St. Louis 9-0, got offensive zone time for all four of their lines, and took the lead. The best early shift actually belonged to the fourth line, especially to the two players returning to the lineup today. Matt Frattin continued his strong play pre-injury by setting up regular healthy scratch Colin Fraser for a tip that just missed up high, and the two combined for another chance seconds later but couldn't jam the puck past Jaroslav Halak. In fact, the only thing that slowed LA down was a power play after Carlo Colaiacovo held Kopitar (holding off multiple defenders already) in the corner. The Kings didn't get a single shot on goal despite some decent pressure.
Soon after, the new second/third line of Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll, and Justin Williams opened the scoring. Rotating the puck in the offensive zone, Williams moved up the boards while Stoll drifted in from the point. Brown moved from behind the net to the front, and as the defenders followed Williams, Williams passed to Stoll. With Halak screened by Brown, Stoll scored on a low wrister. Pretty well-worked for a combination which had been together for all of ten minutes. (Regehr point alert: he got the secondary assist.) The Blues did actually get a couple shots at Ben Scrivens after that goal, but the Kings struck again through Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli's first shot attempt was actually more impressive than the follow-up, as he tipped a Drew Doughty knuckler over Halak and onto the crossbar. Toffoli reacted quickly to get to the rebound first and beat Halak to make it 2-0.
Robyn Regehr took an upper-body hit and went off to the locker room for awhile, meaning that the next penalty kill (after another Anze Kopitar penalty, which was really weird, you guys) a bit hairy. David Backes was smashed into Ben Scrivens by Slava Voynov, but Scrivens was able to focus and stop Alexander Steen's tricky shot/pass with his pad just before impact. Backes was apparently disappointed that this didn't anger the fans, because early in the second, he would trip Dwight King and forcefully face-wash him while he was down on the ice. The Kings looked incompetent on the ensuing power play, but Toffoli scored on another rebound six seconds after Backes got back on the ice. This time, the initial shot was a deflected Willie Mitchell bid, which Toffoli calmly roofed past Halak.
LA would falter just a bit after that goal, but Darryl Sutter took a timeout and the Kings nearly came back and scored on a Jeff Carter wrist shot. Halak didn't stop it, but the post did; no truth to the rumor that the post was dented by the massive impact. The Kings controlled the remainder of the second and the first half of the third consisted of LA continuing to put the game to bed. Jaden Schwartz narrowly missed breaking up the shutout when he shot wide past a lunging Scrivens, and it began to look like the Blues wouldn't even get a goal out of this one. St. Louis did eventually break through and duplicated LA's feat by scoring six seconds after their own power play, when Kevin Shattenkirk converted a sweet Vladimir Tarasenko pass past Scrivens.
A brutal Drew Doughty turnover gift-wrapped a scoring chance for Backes soon after, but Scrivens stoned him. Alex Steen was also unsuccessful on a couple of late-game shots, decreasing his shooting percentage to somewhere around 476% or so. But St. Louis did get a consolation marker when Tarasenko tipped a shot through traffic past Scrivens with 15 seconds left. The Blues charged forward immediately on the ensuing faceoff and Scrivens did have to make one more save to clinch the win. But save it he did. The Blues get two days to recover from yet another physical contest, but LA comes right back tomorrow for their first matchup of the year against the Anaheim Ducks.