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Kings crumble in the third, fall 5-2 in St. Louis

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

Although the Kings came out with a strong start Tuesday night, the St. Louis Blues’ finish was stronger; as they scored five unanswered goals, handing the Kings a 5-2 loss at the Scottrade Center.

They say a two-goal lead is the most dangerous one to have in hockey; and that old theory was tried and true tonight.

For the Kings, it’s an end to a rather forgettable five-game road trip where they posted a 1-3-1 mark, and for the Blues, it’s the club’s fifth-straight win. The Kings will get another crack at St. Louis Thursday night at STAPLES Center.

St. Louis came into the night with the third-most wins in the Western Conference, and they weren’t deterred by the Kings’ impressive start.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Alec Martinez noted following the loss. “We went into the third period there, and had an opportunity to win a game on the road against a really good team in our conference and we didn’t do it.”

The Kings played a very composed game out of the gate, but they let two early power play opportunities slip away without a goal. Other than struggles on special teams, the Kings were very impressive from the get-go.

With 11 first period shots, the Kings couldn’t find a way to get a puck past rookie goaltender Jake Allen. Marian Gaborik, in his fifth game back after missing seven games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, got the Kings’ offense rolling in the second period.

Just over five minutes into the second, Gaborik dropped a pass off to Justin Williams, who was driving to the net on the left side. Williams’ shot was stopped by Allen, but Gaborik continued to pursue the play and knocked a rebound past Allen to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.

On their third power play of the night, the Kings finally got some positive results, and Marian Gaborik struck for his second goal of the evening. While Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar cycled the puck low in St. Louis’ zone, Gaborik stationed himself in front of the Blues net.

Kopitar, with time and space low along the half-boards, found Gaborik with a beautiful cross-ice back-door pass, which Gaborik deflected off the left post and past Jake Allen to give the Kings a 2-0 lead.

With his two goals tonight, Gaborik now has seven on the season, and three in the previous two games.

Vladimir Terasenko got the Blues on the board with under eight minutes to play in the second, beating Jonathan Quick with a wrist shot high to the glove side. The Kings, though, remained composed throughout the rest of the second period, and found themselves starting the third period with a power play.

The Kings, looking to extend their lead with an early third period power play, not only failed to do so, but didn’t record a single shot in the first 16+ minutes of the final frame. In total, the Kings registered one shot during the third period.

“We’re a team that usually closes things out leading after two,” Justin Williams said following the loss. “We didn’t do it tonight. [It’s] very frustrating.”

Coming into the night, the Kings were 12-0-1 this season when leading after two periods.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation time, Dustin Brown (high-sticking) and Robyn Regehr (Hooking) were called for minor penalties within :28 seconds of one another.

And, that’s when things fell apart.

The Blues got to work right away. Kevin Shattenkirk blasted a slap shot that deflected off Drew Doughty’s stick past Jonathan Quick on the 5-on-3, and then Vladimir Terasenko followed up with his second goal of the night, beating Quick with a wrist shot low to the blocker side on the trail-end of the Blues’ 5-on-4 power play.

Alexander Steen followed up shortly thereafter to give St. Louis a 4-2 lead as the Blues attacked on a well-executed 3-on-2 sequence while the Kings were pressing for offense.

St. Louis scored three goals in a 2:30 minute span, leaving the Kings rattled. At this point, the Kings had yet to record their first shot of the period.

Vladimir Terasenko buried an empty-net goal to record his second hat trick of the season, giving the Blues a 5-2 lead – the night’s final score.

“We just weren’t sharp [in the third], we weren’t making plays that we need to make, especially against this team and on the road,” Martinez said of the Blues’ late comeback. “A couple of plays resulted in penalties, and you can’t do that against a team [like the Blues]. They take a lot of pride in their power play and they have a really good one, so we can’t do that.”

Marian Gaborik (2G) led all Kings players in points scored (2), Jeff Carter in shots taken (4), seven players in hits delivered (2), Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty in shots blocked (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (30:06). Jonathan Quick made 18 saves in the loss.

Trevor Lewis played in his 299th NHL regular season game tonight.

The Kings, who are heading home, have a shot at the Blues Thursday night.

“Yeah, you want to beat [the Blues] obviously, especially after the game like it was tonight,” Anze Kopitar stressed following the loss. “You want to come out Thursday and, I guess, have a little revenge.”

With the loss, the Kings’ record dips to 15-11-6; their mark away from STAPLES Center drops to 4-7-5. The Kings finished their five-game road trip with a 1-3-1 record. The Kings will return to home to Los Angeles to begin a four-game home stand Thursday night to take on the St. Louis Blues at STAPLES Center. The puck is set to drop at 7:30PM PT.

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