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Gagne's pair leads Kings past Blues

by Curtis Zupke /
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings' epic road trip technically ended a couple of days ago, but they celebrated their unofficial homecoming Tuesday.

Jonathan Quick made 27 saves for his 15th career shutout and Simon Gagne bookended a 5-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues with goals in the first and third period as the Kings unveiled their new-look squad in front of a sellout crowd of 18,118 at Staples Center.

Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Jarret Stoll each had a goal and an assist in the Kings' North American home opener.

An 18-day sojourn that took them from Denver to Anaheim, Las Vegas, Hamburg, Stockholm, Berlin, New Jersey and Philadelphia left the Kings among the last teams in the NHL to play a game in their own arena -- they were the designated "home" team in both of their Compuware NHL Premiere games in Europe -- and they didn't disappoint the local fans.

"It shows what type of team we are," Gagne said. "It's good to get the first one, and get a lot of goals for our fans. Overall we played a good game as a team."

Quick improved to 2-7-1 lifetime against St. Louis while Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak suffered his first loss in six career decisions against the Kings.

While Quick got the shutout, Gagne garnered much attention for his chemistry with Kopitar on the first line.

He took a pass from Kopitar and scored on a breakaway in the third period for a 5-0 edge just over than six minutes after Kopitar put in a wrist shot from above the right circle.

"It was fun," said Gagne, who has three goals and four points in five games. "It's always fun when you're able to chip in and score some goals. I had a couple of chances to get the hat trick at the end. I had two nice passes from my linemates … I wasn't able to finish it but overall I was pretty happy with the first game at home."

Gagne, a free-agent signing from Tampa Bay after he spent 10 seasons in Philadelphia, was a longtime teammate of offseason acquisition Mike Richards, and the game gave the fans an in-person look at the ex-Flyers.

"Richards, Gagne and the new guys," Jarret Stoll said. "Gags, he can score goals, and that's what he's going to do, especially playing with Kopi."


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The victory ended a four-game losing streak against St. Louis, which swept the series last season and had won eight of the previous nine meetings.

"They came out harder than we did and we didn't match their intensity early on," forward Matt D'Agostini said. "We fell behind and the boys still played hard but we just couldn't get the bounces to get the momentum we needed."

St. Louis ended a four-game road trip 1-3-0 and heads home with more questions about its special teams. The Blues came up empty on four power plays and are in a 0-for-19 drought. Their 30th-ranked penalty-killing unit has allowed a power-play goal in every game this season.

"You never anticipate that," St. Louis coach Davis Payne said of the special-teams problems. "You anticipate stretches you have to deal with. (But) this is a little more than you anticipated."

Payne was optimistic going forward, though. St. Louis returns home for one game and then has a five-game road trip.

"We'll be good when we get home," Payne said. "We've got to make sure we understand there's a margin of error that we have to get closer to."

The game swung midway through when St. Louis had its third power play end prematurely because Brown induced Chris Stewart into a roughing penalty. Alex Pietrangelo then hooked Kopitar to give the Kings a two-man advantage, and Brown took a pass from Mike Richards and whacked the puck through Halak's pads for a 3-0 lead.

A breakdown in coverage down low led to a 2-0 lead in the second as Stoll was left open in the slot to one-time Brown's pass behind Halak for his first goal this season.

"We get ourselves in the second period and we're still a 1-0 hockey game and we give up an interior pass in D-zone coverage that is far too easy," Payne said.

Gagne banged in a rebound from the left side of the net at 7:45 to give the Kings a 1-0 lead after the opening period. He took a drop pass from Willie Mitchell and put a shot on goal that Halak stopped, but Stoll got another shot and the loose puck went to a pouncing Gagne.

T.J. Oshie nearly tied it on the power play when his shot on an open net struck the back of Mitchell's skate. The Kings had a near miss, too, as Kopitar wristed a shot from the St. Louis blue line that skipped off the ice past Halak and hit the post.

Kings defenseman Slava Voynov made his NHL debut as injured Drew Doughty's replacement and was a plus-2 for the night. He also played on the first power play unit.

"For a kid who played his first game was pretty collected, pretty poised, and I thought he made some very good decisions with the puck," Kings coach Terry Murray said.
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