Andy Murray's first home win as the St. Louis Blues coach came against his former team, the Los Angeles Kings. Now he'll go for another when the resurgent Blues host the Kings again on Saturday.
Murray took over for the fired Mike Kitchen on Dec. 11 and the Blues have gone 8-4-3 since, including wins in eight of their last 11 games. St. Louis (15-21-7) beat the Kings 5-2 on Dec. 21 to give Murray his first home victory and spark a stretch of four wins in the Blues' last five games at Scottrade Center.
"I've got a lot of friends over there," Murray said of the Kings after the Dec. 21 victory. "They're my second favorite team in the Western Conference."
Murray coached in Los Angeles (16-23-6) for five-plus seasons before getting fired with 12 games remaining in 2005-06. He is the Kings' franchise leader in wins (215) and games coached (480), and reached the playoffs in each of his first three seasons.
Murray's arrival in St. Louis has given the previously listless team a resurgence.
"We weren't very good at the beginning of the year," said Blues goaltender Manny Legace, who is 8-2-1 with two shutouts and a 1.81 goals-against average in his last 11 games. "We made a coaching change and put in a system that the boys can do. It seems to be working for us and we're trusting each other."
Legace made 24 saves Wednesday, including 13 in the final period, to backstop the Blues to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. He is 7-1 with a tie and a 2.48 GAA in 10 career games against the Kings.
The Blues trailed by a goal early in the second period before Dan Hinote got the equalizer and Dallas Drake scored the go-ahead goal, with Barret Jackman assisting on both. The win capped a three-game road trip for St. Louis, which is playing its last home game before the All-Star break.
The Kings, meanwhile, are just 5-13 on the road this season as they open a three-game trip. They have been outscored 79-53 away from home, and have allowed six goals in each of their last two games there.
Michael Cammalleri got Los Angeles on the board first Thursday, but then it allowed four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 home defeat to the San Jose Sharks. Rookie center Anze Kopitar, who has a goal and three assists in two matchups with St. Louis this season, recorded a goal and an assist in the loss, but it wasn't enough to boost coach Marc Crawford's mood.
"I didn't find too many things to praise our club about," Crawford said. "We're sorting through the guys that won't do the things we need to have them do, and they won't be here. That's the way it will be, plain and simple. You'll figure out who those guys are, because they'll be gone."
Los Angeles netminder Mathieu Garon, who made 26 saves in Thursday's loss, has won five straight starts against the Blues, posting a 1.58 GAA in those outings.
These teams have split two meetings this season, but the Kings have won five of the last six matchups with the Blues overall.