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Toffoli, Scrivens lead Kings past Blues

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi once likened Tyler Toffoli to Luc Robitaille because, as the cliché goes, the puck just finds him. Lately, it's been finding him on the biggest stages.

Toffoli scored twice and Ben Scrivens made 25 saves to lead the Kings to a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues on Monday night at Staples Center.

Scrivens improved to 6-1-3 in place of injured No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick. He benefited from a much tighter defensive game by L.A. and lost the shutout on a goal by Kevin Shattenkirk with 5:54 left in the third.

Toffoli leads the Kings with four game-winning goals. He had a three-point game against the Vancouver Canucks on Nov.9 and another was the game's only goal eight nights later against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Next up for Toffoli and Los Angeles are the rival Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night at Honda Center.

Toffoli's second goal was needed after Vladimir Tarasenko got the Blues to 3-2 with 16 seconds remaining. Toffoli ended a six-game scoring drought that might have got the attention of Kings coach Darryl Sutter.

"I think he realized that my game slipped and I wasn't working as hard as I should have been," Toffoli said. "I think tonight I wanted to come out and really have a strong game as a strong team. I think I did a pretty good job. [I've got a] couple things to clean up, but at the same time, it's obviously good to score again."

This was the first game between the teams since an unbelievably tight 2013 Western Conference Quarterfinal series that Los Angeles won in six games, with each game being decided by one goal. St. Louis still can't figure out L.A., which has won 15 of the past 18 meetings and nine straight at home, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

St. Louis took back-to-back regulation losses for the first time this season. Its top line of Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie saw a lot of the Dwight King-Anze Kopitar-Jeff Carter line and were a combined minus-5 before the final two St. Louis goals.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock cited slow starts the past two games, and his players echoed it as they return home to re-focus.

"I think there's lessons to be learned," defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "Both games, right from the start, we got outcompeted. We're a team that prides ourselves on our work and being able to grind teams out, and we kind of got a taste of our own medicine, I guess, the last couple of games, and we didn't respond well."

L.A. had one regulation loss in the previous 12 games, but came off one of its poorest showings of the season, to the Calgary Flames on Saturday, and Sutter changed all his lines. Toffoli was centered by Mike Richards, who assisted on both of his goals.

Toffoli found a loose puck in the slot on Willie Mitchell's shot and wristed it home at 5:48 of the second for a 3-0 lead. Another Kings power play had just expired, dropping L.A. to 0-for-20 over the past six games.

But it was more pertinent for the Kings to get back to their defensive stance.

"We cleaned up a lot," Jake Muzzin said. "We focused being quick in our zone, getting pucks in and out, and not giving them time to set up or get a forecheck going or a cycle game going. When we're cleaning and quick in our zone, we don't give them a chance to get time in our zone."

The Kings put the Blues in a 2-0 hole after the first period with nicely executed plays down low.

Toffoli worked the puck out from behind the goal line with Roman Polak breathing down his neck, then got rewarded with an open-net goal when Drew Doughty's point shot rang off the crossbar at 16:13.

Jarret Stoll got his first goal since Oct.30 with a snap shot from above the left circle with Dustin Brown as a screen at 10:38.

"Outplayed significantly in the first period, outcompeted, not ready for the tempo," Hitchcock said. "That's our responsibility. [As] players and coaches, we've got to get ready for the tempo of the game. We revved it up halfway through the hockey game. We can't play like that …. they took it to us."

St. Louis had some great shifts in the second period and a big push in the third when it outshot L.A., 11-4. Jaden Schwartz walked in on Scrivens, but shot wide left late in the third.

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