LOS ANGELES – In a game that tested the Kings’ perseverance, they were relentless in a 6-4 win over the St. Louis Blues Thursday night at STAPLES Center.
This time around, it was the Kings who overcame an early deficit. Thursday night’s storyline was just about the opposite of what these two clubs wrote in St. Louis on Tuesday. For the Kings to not only overcome Tuesday’s rattling defeat, but to recover from an early three-goal deficit Thursday, says a lot about what this club has going for them in their locker room.
“Some other teams would probably pack it in after the 3-0 [deficit], but not this team,” Anze Kopitar said following the game. “We have a lot of character. We have a lot of guys that care about each other and like playing for each other so that’s a big part of how we came back too.”
The Kings didn’t necessarily come out of the gate slow, but the Blues were quick to punch themselves ahead early – scoring three goals in the first 16 minutes of play. Penalty trouble opened the door for St. Louis’ comeback Tuesday night, and it was what propelled them to their early lead Thursday – as two of their three first period goals came on the power play.
Marian Gaborik, who has been hot since returning from injury, struck to get the Kings on the board with just over two minutes to play in the first period. After Drew Doughty nixed a Blues clearing opportunity, Jeff Carter found himself alone with the puck in front of St. Louis’ net. Martin Brodeur denied Carter any opportunity to score with a strong poke check, but the puck rolled right onto Gaborik’s stick as he followed up on the play.
Gaborik had Brodeur out of position as soon as he got control of the puck, and fired a wrist shot past the Blues’ goaltender before there was a chance to react.
Anze Kopitar, who came into the night with just one goal to his name in the previous 14 contests, pulled the Kings to within one early in the second period, burying his seventh goal of the season.
Kopitar, who was playing the high man as the Kings entered St. Louis’ zone, received a gorgeous drop pass from Marian Gaborik, and rifled a wrist shot that beat Brodeur low to the blocker side.
Gaborik followed up with his second goal of the night with just over four minutes remaining in the second, tying the score for the Kings as he tucked home a rebound from point-blank range. Gaborik’s goal came on the Kings fifth power play of the evening, and it only took the Kings six seconds to execute.
After Jeff Carter won an offensive zone faceoff, Drew Doughty fired a shot toward the net that hit off of Gaborik’s left leg. Gaborik quickly recovered the puck, and with Brodeur off balance, tucked the puck into a wide open net.
Only :36 seconds later would the Blues reclaim the lead when Jori Lehtera beat Jonathan Quick with a backhander. Lehtera’s goal sent St. Louis to the second intermission holding a 4-3 lead.
The Kings came out buzzing in the third; Jeff Carter tied the game :20 seconds into the final frame. On a two-on-one sequence, Anze Kopitar found Carter with a beautiful saucer pass. Upon receiving the pass, Carter calmed down the puck and beat a vulnerable Martin Brodeur high to the blocker side.
For Carter, it ended a 13 game goalless drought.
On the Kings’ sixth and final power play of the evening, Jake Muzzin gave the Kings their first lead of the night. Muzzin, upon having a rebound trickle out to him atop St. Louis’ zone, faked a shot and walked in to fire a wrist shot high to the top left corner past Brodeur. Muzzin’s goal gave the Kings a 5-4 lead with 11:02 left to play in regulation time.
Just over three minutes after Muzzin put the Kings ahead, Dwight King scored the wackiest goal of the night to give the Kings a 6-4 lead. On the play, King was simply looking to dump the puck into St. Louis’ zone on Brodeur. King’s dump-in caught a funny bounce, then hopped up and over Brodeur and into the net.
King’s goal sucked the sails out of the Blues, who didn’t pose much of a threat to the Kings’ lead thereafter.
Marian Gaborik, with three points tonight (2G, 1A), is now riding a three-game point streak. He’s registered six points (5G, 1A) in that span.
“Obviously it gives our team, and us, quite a bit of confidence,” Marian Gaborik said of the win. “Last game we blew the third period and we were excited to come back and play these guys again. I’m glad we got these two points. We got on the board on the power play, which is huge. It was just a sixty-minute effort.”
Anze Kopitar, with four points (1G, 3A), tied a career high. Jeff Carter, who also had four points (1G, 3A), tied a career high in points scored, and assists registered in a single game.
The Kings have now won their last 11 games against the Blues at STAPLES Center, including postseason meetings. The Kings have won their past six regular season meetings against St. Louis in Los Angeles. The last game the Blues won at STAPLES Center came on March 17, 2011.
Trevor Lewis played in his 300th NHL game Thursday night.
With three power play goals on the night, the Kings tied a season-high mark. Their six goals scored ties a season-high mark as well.
Anze Kopitar (1G, 3A), Marian Gaborik (2G, 2A), and Jeff Carter (1G, 3A) led all Kings players in points scored (4), Jake Muzzin and Jeff Carter in shots taken (6), Jake Muzzin in hits delivered (6), Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Brayden McNabb in shots blocked (3), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (33:56). Jonathan Quick made 24 saves in the win.
With the win, the Kings’ record jumps to 16-11-6; their mark at STAPLES Center improves to 12-4-1. The Kings will continue their four-game home stand Saturday afternoon as the Arizona Coyotes visit STAPLES Center for a matinee affair. The puck is slated to drop at 1:00PM PT.