The St. Louis Blues will try to spend less time in the penalty box when they host the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.
The Blues have drawn 25 minor penalties in their last five games and they were short-handed 12 times in their last two games. They won 4-2 Saturday despite allowing the Kings to score on a 5-on-3 power play.
“I don’t know what to tell you guys about penalties,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I don’t want to talk about them. I’ve talked to you guys, I’ve talked to the team about them, it causes a lot of problems.”
The Blues took four penalties in the second period, which strained their penalty killers and threw off their playing rotation.
“If you’re not playing 5-on-5, it’s tough to have any flow to the game, especially when it’s your own doing,” defenseman Justin Faulk said. “Just sticking with it and staying out of the box, get to that game, we’ll be all right.”
On the plus side, the Blues finally scored a power-play goal after starting the season 0-for-14 with the man advantage. Torey Krug connected with a shot from the center point.
“Obviously our power play was not catching any breaks,” Krug said. “We need to work harder. Hopefully now that we got one, the flood gates will open and we’ll have the confidence to work.”
The rebuilding Kings earned points in three of their first four games before falling short Saturday.
“The big picture has to come together for us to be competitive,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “But the work ethic is there. We’re definitely not lacking there. We have to learn and improve in some areas and learn how to win.”
Coach Todd McLellan shuffled his lineup for the last two games, moving Adrian Kempe up to the top line with Kopitar and Alex Iafallo. Kempe responded by scoring a goal Saturday.
Dustin Brown, who scored a power-play goal Saturday, slid down to the third line with Gabriel Vilardi and Lias Andersson.
Mikey Anderson moved on the top defensive pairing with Drew Doughty and fourth-line center Michael Amadio and third-pairing defenseman Kale Clague drew into the lineup.
“They’ve revamped their team obviously, added some more speed, things like that to their lineup,” Berube said. “They’re working hard. They’ve got some speed in their lineup now, they go to the net hard, and they still have some really good veterans that were on those winning teams.”
Kopitar and Doughty, cornerstones of the Kings’ Stanley Cup-winning teams, each played nearly 25 minutes Saturday night.
The Blues got veteran defenseman Marco Scandella back in the lineup, but fellow defenseman Robert Bortuzzo remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
Since Cal Petersen started Saturday’s game in goal, the Kings are likely to go back to Jonathan Quick (1-0-2, 3.18 goals-against average) for the second of back-to-back games.
Jordan Binnington started the first five games of the season, so the Blues could give rookie Ville Husso his first NHL start. Husso made his debut in the league by allowing four goals in the third period of an 8-0 loss at Colorado.
–Field Level Media