Blues try to stay hot at home against Kings
There's a major contrast between playing at home and on the road this season for the St. Louis Blues, who have made Scottrade Center a safe haven through the first nine games.
The Blues are back in the Gateway City and will shoot for their fourth straight win as the host tonight versus the Los Angeles Kings. They currently possess an NHL-best 7-1-1 mark at home and are only three wins shy of 900 franchise victories in St. Louis. The Blues own an 8-1-1 record in their previous 10 games at Scottrade Center, dating back to last season.
St. Louis was aiming for a season-best fourth straight win overall until suffering a 3-2 shootout loss at Minnesota on Saturday and received a season- high 30 saves from Jaroslav Halak. Halak allowed a power-play goal to Mikko Koivu late in the third period, while T.J. Oshie scored early in the final stanza and David Backes lit the lamp in the first period.
"One point is good, but we gave them the two," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said. "We had a chance to win. Our power play gave up a goal and you can't do that when you're playing in another team's building. They buried their opportunities."
Oshie also scored in the shootout for St. Louis, which has dropped four in a row on the road and fell to 3-6-1 as the guest. Oshie is listed as probable for tonight with a wrist injury.
The Blues still haven't lost in regulation under coach Ken Hitchcock (4-0-2) and have points in a season-best six straight games. They have permitted eight goals in that time under their new head coach and moved within two points of second-place Nashville in the Central Division.
St. Louis gave up 35 goals in 13 games under Davis Payne.
The Blues are a perfect 8-0-0 when leading after the second period this season and Hitchcock (537) is one win away from tying Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff for fourth on the active list. The Sabres are idle Tuesday. Brian Elliott could return to the crease tonight for the hosts and leads the NHL with a 1.43 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.
Halak, however, is 5-1-0 in his career versus the Kings.
Los Angeles was pushing for its fourth victory in a row on Saturday versus the Detroit Red Wings, but suffered a 4-1 defeat. Mike Richards scored his second short-handed goal in as many games, while Jonathan Quick made 34 saves for the Kings, who had won four of five games and is two points behind San Jose for Pacific Division bragging rights.
"By the end of the second period they had the game going the way they wanted it," Kings coach Terry Murray said of the 3-1 deficit heading into the final stanza. "We just weren't skating the way we had in the last three games."
The Red Wings outshot LA by a 30-15 margin over the first two periods. Richards has scored goals in three straight and five of the last six games, and the Kings are 9-2-1 when he posts a point.
Los Angeles, which has recorded 30-plus shots in six of the last seven contests, will also visit Dallas on its brief road trip and is 4-2-2 away from Staples Center this season.
Tuesday's game between the Kings and Blues is the second of four matchups this season. The Kings halted a seven-game losing streak in the series with a 5-0 demolition of St. Louis on Oct. 18 in Hollywood, as Simon Gagne had two goals and an assist and Quick made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season.
Halak turned aside 14-of-18 shots before being pulled in the third period for the Blues, who have won eight of their last 10 outings against the Kings, outscoring them by a 30-21 count in that span. The Blues have also registered an 8-2-0 ledger in their last 10 homes games versus Los Angeles.
LA's last win at Scottrade Center was Oct. 10, 2009 -- a 2-1 triumph.