The Los Angeles Kings will try to clean up their special teams play when they visit the St. Louis Blues again Monday.
The Kings allowed four power-play goals and a short-handed tally while falling 7-3 Saturday in the first of their consecutive games against the Blues in St. Louis.
On the heels of their 3-2 overtime loss Friday night in Dallas, the Kings were a step behind the well-rested Blues.
“When you’re minus five in special teams situations, it’s not going anywhere for you,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “That’s the worst I’ve seen us penalty kill, maybe in the NHL, since I’ve been here, so that was very disappointing, and our power play was just as bad. Obviously your 5-on-5 game isn’t going to be very good when that’s as bad as it is.”
David Perron scored two power-play goals for the Blues with one-time shots from the left circle. Ryan O’Reilly and James Neal scored from point-blank range by converting pinpoint passes with the man advantage.
So McLellan saw much room for improvement from his penalty killers.
“Faceoffs, retrievals, battles, blocked shots, clears, seams, goaltending — all six or seven of those things, so we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’ll rest, we’ll look at the video and we’ll figure things out.”
The Kings are winless (0-3-1) in their last four games while the Blues have won their first four games while outscoring opponents 22-11.
The Blues are winning with balanced scoring. They have used 20 skaters this season and each has registered at least one point, with Jordan Kyrou (two goals, six assists) and Perron (five goals, two assists) leading the way.
They will get winger Pavel Buchnevich back from his two-game NHL suspension for a head-butting incident, but winger Brandon Saad (COVID-19 protocol) may remain on the shelf Monday.
In their absence Neal, Klim Kostin, and Kyle Clifford filled in nicely on the forward lines.
“It’s clear that our offense is pretty balanced to be honest,” Perron said. “We’re pretty deep even with those two (Buchnevich and Saad) out of the lineup. (Clifford) comes in; he’s obviously a regular in the NHL.
“Jake’s pushing for a spot. We got Vladi (Tarasenko) on the so-to-speak third line. Kyrou’s had a hot start. So I think on any given night someone’s hot, and you can have a good night. And it’s tough on the other team. You can’t cover all three lines.”
The Kings will likely be without cornerstone defenseman Drew Doughty (knee injury) for the second straight game. Veteran Olli Maata stepped in to take his spot in the lineup Saturday.
McLellan has been alternating goaltenders, so Jonathan Quick (0-1-1, 2.94 goals-against average) may get the call after Calvin Petersen’s rough outing (seven goals allowed on 40 shots) Saturday.
Blues coach Craig Berube has stuck with No. 1 goaltender Jordan Binnington (4-0, 2.75 GAA) so far this season, but he could give backup Ville Husso his first regular-season action to keep him fresh.
–Field Level Media