Red-hot Blues meet improving Kings for third time

NHL

The Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues have become quite familiar with each other in a limited amount of time. They are scheduled to meet for the third time in 12 days on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

The Blues were the superior team in the first two meetings, both played in St. Louis, but the Kings are coming off a highly successful weekend.

St. Louis scored six consecutive goals after falling behind 1-0 against the Kings on Oct. 23 and eventually won 7-3. Two days later, they leaned on goalie Ville Husso, who made 34 saves in a 3-0 victory.

The Blues won’t have the option of using Husso against the Kings, however. He was placed in COVID-19 protocol on Sunday, one of four St. Louis players on the list.

Jordan Binnington remains the clear No. 1 goalie for St. Louis and is coming off a 25-save shutout in a 1-0 win against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

The Blues head north after playing the Kings and are scheduled to visit the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. St. Louis coach Craig Berube didn’t rule out starting Binnington in the back-to-back games.

Berube was also confident that forward Brayden Schenn would play after he left in the third period against the Blackhawks following a collision with the boards, then spent time in concussion protocol.

“He’ll be good to go,” Berube said of Schenn, a former first-round pick of the Kings who tied for third on the Blues in points last season.

Berube was also confident that forward Brandon Saad back would return against the Kings after missing four games while on the COVID-19 protocol list.

The Kings have boosted their confidence with two straight wins on the heels of a six-game losing streak.

Los Angeles knocked off the visiting Montreal Canadiens 5-2 on Saturday, then overcame a one-goal deficit to start the third period the following day against the Buffalo Sabres and won 3-2 for their first two-game winning streak of the season.

“To do it coming from behind and to get the win, I think it means a lot to our group right now,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.

A hot player for the Kings has been forward Alex Iafallo, who has three goals in the past two games. He also scored the first goal in the first meeting against the Blues this season.

The hottest player for the Blues is forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who is riding a six-game point streak (four goals, five assists).

Tarasenko is one point behind Al MacInnis (452) for eighth on the team’s all-time scoring list. He passed defenseman Alex Pietrangelo for ninth with an assist against the Blackhawks on Saturday.

Still, Berube said there are areas where the team can improve.

“I think we’ve got to do a better job, when there’s confrontation in the offensive zone, defensive zone, is making the right play with the puck,” Berube said. “Put (the puck) to an area where we can get it back. Just make a hard play in your own end and get it out.”

–Field Level Media

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