Surging Kings face off in matinee with Blues
Saturday, 12.05.2009 / 1:00 PMBLUES (11-10-5) at KINGS (17-10-2)
St. Louis 5-4-1; Los Angeles 6-4-0
Second of four meetings this season. Los Angeles won 2-1 in St. Louis on Oct. 10, getting goals from Ryan Smyth and Michal Handzus and 29 saves from Jonathan Quick
. Alex Steen
scored shorthanded for the Blues.
Can St. Louis follow the lead of Nashville and Calgary, both of which got the early jump in Saturday matinees in Los Angeles? The Kings mostly sleepwalked through a 3-1 loss to the Predators on Nov. 7 and allowed a Jarome Iginla goal 11 seconds into a 5-2 loss to the Flames two weeks later.
"It's a different mentality, to get ready for those," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "I like those games, but it is a different mentality to get prepared. Everything changes. Your routine is thrown off a little bit. You're eating at a different time. You're eating different kinds of meals.
"But … that's what you deal with, and prepare yourself for. You just have to spend more time with yourself, talking to yourself, preparing yourself for the start time."
Shorthanded and seconds away from a third consecutive defeat, St. Louis instead pulled off its most inspiring win of the season Thursday in San Jose. After pulling goalie Ty Conklin to get back to a 5-on-5 skating situation, the Blues got the tying goal from defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo
with seven seconds left in regulation. T.J. Oshie
then netted the decisive shootout goal to beat the Sharks, 3-2.
"A really good finish," Conklin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We've been on the other end of that a couple of times recently. It's certainly nice to be on the winning side and get one late there. You want to win the game, but it's always exciting to win the game like that."
The offense is starting to produce again for Los Angeles, which has scored 12 goals during its current three-game winning streak. That includes a six-spot the Kings put up against the Senators on Thursday, getting a go-ahead, power-play goal by Drew Doughty
and a couple late put-away scores from Justin Williams
in a 6-3 victory.
"We've won three in a row, and we've won them in three different fashions," Williams said. "The thing I'm happy about is, good teams and great teams find a way to win games when they're not at their best.
"We were definitely not at our best. We were loose tonight, but we ended up coming away with two points. We came away with what we wanted to get. I know that next game, we're going to be better and hopefully start a little ball rolling here."
Colaiacovo has two goals and four points in his last five games for the Blues. Fellow defenseman Erik Johnson has three goals and six points in his last eight.
Kings defenseman Randy Jones has goals in two straight and four in just 11 games this season. Forward Brad Richardson
has also lit the lamp in consecutive games after not having a point through his first 26 games. Forward Wayne Simmonds scored on a penalty shot against the Senators and has four goals and two assists during a five-game points streak.
St. Louis defenseman Eric Brewer is back on injured reserve and expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a lower-body injury. Forward D.J. King remains out after right hand surgery in late October.
Los Angeles defenseman Rob Scuderi
is close to returning from a lower-body injury, but Monday is a more probable date for that. Smyth is still out with an upper-body injury.
Jones is enjoying life in California -- the ex-Flyer is just one goal shy of his career-high of five, which he registered in 71 games for Philadelphia two seasons ago. His nine points are already one more than he had in 47 games there last season.
The Kings have quietly recorded 17 wins, tied for second-most in the Western Conference. The Blues have more points than games played, but still sit fifth in the ultra-competitive Central Division.