Well so much for that St. Louis curse…
The Los Angeles Kings had their real home opener yesterday and didn’t disappoint, shutting out and blowing out those pesky St. Louis Blues 5-0, to improve their record to 3-1-1, as the Blues now fall to 2-4-0. As mentioned before, the Blues have given the Kings a heck of a lot of trouble in the past, but the Kings put all of that in the past on Tuesday night and walloped the Blues in front of a sold out crowd of 18,118 at Staples Center. It was a fantastic way to open up in front of the hometown fans. Jonathan Quick was nothing short of brilliant, again, and made 27 saves for his 15th career shutout. It was the first time a Kings goalie had shutout St. Louis since Rogie Vachon did it on February 22nd, 1977. It was also the first time the Kings had beaten the Blues since October 10th, 2009, ending a seven-game losing streak to St. Louis, and the first time they had beaten the Blues at Staples Center since December 11th, 2008, ending a four-game home losing streak to the Blues. But now, all of those records are erased, and the hex that the Blues had over the Kings is gone. It was great to see the offense explode like it did after scoring only nine goals in their first four games. The Kings will now prepare for their first divisional match up of the year with their Pacific Division rival the Phoenix Coyotes, but before I get you set for that, let’s recap all of the action from Tuesday night:
1st period: The Kings opened the scoring at the 7:20 mark, as Simon Gagne entered the zone after taking a pass from Willie Mitchell, threw the puck to the front of the net and skated in after it, and Jarret Stoll, fighting for position with a defender, hit the puck back to Gagne as he was coming in and he shot it by Jaroslav Halak to give the Kings the early lead. It was Gagne’s 2nd of the season. The shots were 5-5 after one and each team failed on a power play.
2nd period: There would be no more scoring until over halfway through the game, at the 11:37 mark of the 2nd period, when Dustin Brown did great work controlling the puck down low behind the Blues’ net before sending it out in front and Jarret Stoll was their to knock it in for his 1st goal of the season. Dustin Penner also got an assist, for his 1st point of the season. At the 14:22 mark, Chris Stewart took a roughing penalty, and then just 31 seconds later, Alex Pietrangelo took a hooking penalty, to give the Kings a 5-on-3 for 1:29, and just 12 seconds into it Dustin Brown capitalized for his 1st goal of the season, after Mike Richards got the puck from Jack Johnson to the right of the net and fed it in front to Brown who was near the crease who took a couple of whacks at it before jamming it home. The Blues somehow outshot the Kings 13-12 in the frame, while going 1-for-3 on the power play and killing both St. Louis power plays.
3rd period: The Kings showed early on that they weren’t going to let up, as Anze Kopitar took a drop pass from Simon Gagne at the right side near the blue line and took a sharp wrist shot that Halak got a piece of but trickled in just 23 seconds into the 3rd for his 4th goal of the season. That killed pretty much all hope the Blues had of making a 3rd period comeback, and it was an awful goal for Halak to allow, who was pulled in favour of Brian Elliot after giving up 4 goals on 18 shots. Justin Williams also got an assist. Then at the 6:29 mark, Anze Kopitar gave us all deja vu, as he lobbed a high pass over all of the defenders right onto the stick of Simon Gagne who came in on a breakaway and showed excellent patience and made Elliot look bad before finishing off a forehand to make it 5-0, his 2nd goal and 3rd point of the night and 3rd goal and 7th point of the year. In five games. You know, I’m starting like this guy. The Blues outshot the Kings 9-7 in the frame and failed on their only power play of the period. The Kings did not have one. Overall on the night, the Blues outshot the Kings 27-24 while going 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Kings went 1-for-4.
In his NHL debut, Slava Voynov looked strong but not outstanding, racking up 19:48 of ice time while recording two shots and was a +2. He also had three hits, and got a good chunk of work on the power play and looked good. I’m definitely excited to see what the kid can do in his next few games.
Other standouts from today’s game, among them was Jonathan Quick, who’s off to another brilliant start to the season. Simon Gagne and Anze Kopitar also looked great. If these guys can stay healthy, look for them to have big years.
So now following their heroic homecoming after their long road trip, it’s back on the road for the Kings, who head to Phoenix on Thursday to take on the Coyotes. The Coyotes are 2-2-1 and coming off of a 5-2 loss at home to the Chicago Blackhawks. Look for that game preview coming soon.