Captain Alex Pietrangelo watches his shot beat Jonathan Quick. (Photo courtesy: Mark Terrill, AP)
LOS ANGELES, CA – The St. Louis Blues (35-25-6) earned a thrilling victory late last night in Anaheim after scoring two goals in 12 seconds and look to continue winning on the east coast tonight in the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Kings (24-34-8). The Blues, who looked dejected after a third-period goal by Rickard Rakell, found a spark to get them two big points in the Central Division playoff race and keep them in third, three points ahead of top wild card Dallas. Meanwhile, the Kings will look to play spoiler having one of the worst seasons in franchise history, sitting last in the Western Conference at 24-34-8. The Kings lost to Montreal at home on Tuesday, 3-1.
Brayden Schenn and Robert Thomas were the big storylines for the Blues; Schenn, who had not played in six, scored a goal and an assist last night and Robert Thomas got his sixth and seventh goals of the season, the latter tying the game late in the third. Michael Del Zotto also made his debut with the team after being traded from Anaheim for a sixth-round draft pick; he had two shots and 13:50 time on ice.
Though LA has been statistically one of the worst teams in the league this season, the Kings have beaten St. Louis in both previous meetings: a 2-0 win in St. Louis that lead to Mike Yeo’s subsequent firing, and a 4-3 win at home that was rookie Jordan Binnington’s first career regulation loss. After a career-high 92 points last season, captain Anže Kopitar is having a down year, with 19 goals and 48 points (both numbers lead the team). Defensemen Drew Doughty, who was the lone King to be selected for the All-Star game earlier this season, is also having a down year with 31 assists but also has over 26 minutes average ice time.
The Kings positive now focuses towards their youth players like Matt Luff, who scored the lone goal in last night’s game against Montreal and now has eight in 32 games. “I want to show that I can play here and try to earn a spot, and not be a guy who keeps going up and down,” Luff told the Los Angeles Times. “I want to be the guy who stays up and keeps producing day in and day out.”
The Blues top line got a breath of fresh air back with the return of Brayden Schenn last night. Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko combined for 6 points last night in Anaheim; the past five without Schenn, the aforementioned forwards notched only two points. Robert Thomas had his first multi-goal game of his career last night, and Jordan Binnington now improves to 16-3-1 in his rookie season.
The Blues face off against the Kings at Staples Center at 10:30pm ET. With Binnington playing last night, Jake Allen will get the nod between the pipes. Ways to watch and listen to tonight’s game are provided by:
STL – FSMW, KMOX 1120, NHL.tv
LAK – FSW, KHTS 1220, NHL.tv
10 Schenn – 90 O’Reilly – 91 Tarasenko
17 Schwartz – 70 Sundqvist – 20 Steen
7 Maroon – 21 Bozak – 18 Thomas
62 MacEachern – 49 Barbashev – 9 Blais
6 Edmundson – 27 Pietrangelo
19 Bouwmeester – 55 Parayko
29 Dunn – 42 Del Zotto
23 Brown – 11 Kopitar – 73 Toffoli
17 Kovalchuk – 77 Carter – 14 Lepisic
76 Brodzinski – 9 Kempe – 19 Iafallo
13 Clifford – 22 Lewis – 64 Luff
8 Doughty – 24 Forbort
81 Roy – 27 Martinez
61 Walker – 3 Phaneuf
Jeff Carter is one point shy of 700 career points… Alexander Steen his two points away from his 600th career point, while Jaden Schwartz is one away from 300… Vince Dunn is a goal away from being the third Blue with 10 goals or more in the same season
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