Staples Center was the site of an offensive onslaught on Thursday night as the Los Angeles Kings, in front of a sold-out home crowd, handed the St. Louis Blues a 5-1 loss.
Tanner Pearson and Jake Muzzin both had a pair of goals and Peter Budaj made 21 saves in the victory. Trevor Lewis also scored while Marian Gaborik, Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown each recorded two assists on the night.
The Kings dictated the play for much of the game and chased Jake Allen from the Blues’ crease five minutes into the second period. It was the second time Allen has been pulled in as many games and was the third time in his last five starts. Before he was pulled, Allen allowed three goals on fifteen shots. Backup Carter Hutton made 11 saves and allowed two goals in relief.
When asked about the Kings’ quick start, head coach Darryl Sutter said, via LA Kings Insider, “The first period we’ve had trouble scoring goals since Christmas, especially five-on-five. Getting the lead is the biggest difference. I don’t know if it’s an ‘improvement,’ but that for sure is what stood out.”
The two teams will conclude their season series and decide a winner on Mar. 13 at Staples Center.
The Kings came out of the gate with a dominating first period. Muzzin opened the scoring for Los Angeles just 3:18 into the game. The Kings were on the power play when Muzzin unloaded a slap shot from the top of the left circle and beat Allen, who was looking around a Brown screen in front. It was just the second shot of the game.
The Kings took back-to-back penalties about halfway into the period. First, Nick Shore high-sticked Kyle Brodziak, then just 25 seconds after killing Shore’s penalty, Drew Doughty was sent to the box for boarding Robby Fabbri. The Blues, though, weren’t able to capitalize on, or really build any momentum from, the four minutes of power-play time.
Despite giving up two consecutive power-play opportunities, the Kings allowed just three shots on net through the first 12 minutes of action.
The first period ended like it started for Los Angeles — they found the back of St. Louis’ net again with just 1:48 left to play in the period. Lewis skated along the left boards and into the Blues’ zone. He let go of a shot that didn’t seem too dangerous. But Allen misplayed the puck and it squeaked over his left leg and under his glove.
After 20 minutes, Los Angeles had a two-goal lead and had allowed just six shots on net.
It was a wild second period at Staples Center. A total of four goals were scored, but unfortunately for the Blues, the four goals only widened the lead the Kings had going into the game’s middle period.
Muzzin scored his second goal of the game at the 4:43 mark of the period after a nice neutral zone stretch pass from Kopitar to Gaborik, who then drew the defense to him and fed a wide-open Muzzin for a one-timer past Allen. The goal gave Muzzin his first multi-goal game of the season, chased Allen from the game and brought in Hutton off the bench.
Jake Muzzin makes it 3-0 with this one-time strike. pic.twitter.com/uYJgAzy9I9
— #LAKings (@LAKings) January 13, 2017
Before Hutton could get comfortable, and Allen could even sit on the bench, the Kings were attacking, and scoring, again. This time Pearson drove along the left side, and on the rush, fired a slap shot past Hutton who had only been in net for 51 seconds.
The Blues did manage to get some offensive production when Paul Stastny made it 4-1 after an Alex Steen shot redirected off Stastny’s skate and past Budaj. The play was reviewed twice to make sure there was no distinct kicking motion by Stastny and that Budaj was not interfered with. It was confirmed both didn’t happen and St. Louis was on the board.
As the final seven minutes played on it was all Kings. There was little threat or pressure from St. Louis who seemed to be trying to just make it out of the period, which they almost did. But Pearson struck again with 12 seconds to play in the period to extend their lead to 5-1.
While the Kings scored three goals in the period, the Blues were held to just two shots and had just eight total shots through 40 minutes.
After the explosion of offense in the second period, the game returned to the tight checking game you would expect from a game between Los Angeles and St. Louis. There wasn’t much room to move and several hard body checks were thrown by both teams during the final period.
St. Louis did generate more pressure in the third and had 13 shots on goal in the period. But it was too little too late for the Blues who couldn’t crack Budaj, despite having a power-play early in the period and lost their second consecutive game because of it.
LAK – Jake Muzzin (5) assisted by Drew Doughty (16) and Nick Dowd (12)
LAK – Trevor Lewis (6) assisted by Marian Gaborik (4) and Alec Martinez (18)
LAK – Jake Muzzin (6) assisted by Marian Gaborik (5) and Anze Kopitar (17)
LAK – Tanner Pearson (12) assisted by Dustin Brown (12) and Jeff Carter (16)
STL – Paul Stastny (10) assisted by Alex Steen (20) and Jaden Scwartz (11)
LAK – Tanner Pearson (13) assisted by Jeff Carter (17) and Dustin Brown (13)
THW Three Stars
First: Jake Muzzin (2 goals)
Second: Tanner Pearson (2 goals)
Third: Jeff Carter (2 assists)
Winnipeg Jets at Los Angeles Kings
Staples Center – 7:00 p.m. PST on Saturday, Jan. 14
Broadcast channels – FS-W, SN
2016-17 Season Series:
Nov. 13 – Jets 3 – Kings 2 (SO)
St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center– 7:30 p.m. PST on Saturday, Jan. 14
Broadcast channels – CSN-CA, FS-MW
2016-17 Season Series:
Nov. 17 – Blues 3 – Sharks 2
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.