Kings 3, St. Louis Blues 2
Eight keys to the game:
THE FACTS: The Kings battled back from a slow start Tuesday night at Scottrade Center in St. Louis and received the game winner on a rare goal by veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell with 5 minutes 49 seconds remaining in regulation.
THE STAT: In his most flawless game in a Kings uniform, Mike Richards assisted on the first goal to tie the score, 1-1, then scored early in the third to give the Kings a short-lived 2-1 lead. Just as impressive, Richards won his first 15 faceoffs before losing his final draw with 1.5 seconds remaining. Richards has seven goals in his last seven games.
TURNING POINT: Less than two minutes after the Blues tied the score, 2-2, on a goal by Vladimir Sobotka with 7:32 left in the game, Mitchell received a pass from Simon Gagne near the point and shot it toward the St. Louis goal. The puck deflected off St. Louis center Scott Nichol in transit and flew past goalie Jaroslav Halak with Kings forwards Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams providing screens. It was the 25th goal of Mitchell’s 12-year career and his seventh game winner.
HOT: Kings backup goalie Jonathan Bernier got the nod over Jonathan Quick and he kept the Kings in the hunt after allowing a goal on the first shot of the game. In just his fourth start this season, Bernier stopped 23 shots, none better than the one he turned away from Patrik Berglund after he took a pass while alone in front of the net with 4:40 left in the second period.
NOT: Defensive zone turnovers by St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman led directly to the first two goals by the Kings. During a second-period power play, Richards snagged a blind back-handed pass from Jackman near the icing line and slid it over to Anze Kopitar who was camped in front of the far post. He redirected it past Halak to tie the score, 1-1. Early in the third, Jackman whiffed on a clearing pass and Kings rookie Andrei Loktionov pounced on the loose puck, passing it to Richards in the slot and he did the rest.
GOOD MOVE: St. Louis came into the game last in the league on the power play and the Kings didn’t let them get on track, snuffing out all six man-advantage situations.
BAD MOVE: The Kings appeared to be late for the opening faceoff as the Blues scored 67 seconds into the game when both Gagne and Drew Doughty failed to get a stick on the puck as it hopped between the circles. Alex Steen skated in, collected the puck and shot it past Bernier for a 1-0 lead.
NOTABLE: Doughty received a two-minute cross-checking penalty on T.J. Oshie with 1.5 seconds left in the game, which appeared to injure the high-scoring St. Louis forward and set off a ruckus along the boards. Expect the league to review the play for possible further disciplinary action. Doughty’s clean record could work in his favor … Halak came into this season 5-0 against the Kings in his career but is 0-2 this season … St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock suffered his first regulation loss in seven games since taking over the helm.
UP NEXT: Wednesday vs. the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center, 5:30 p.m. (PT)