Blues host Kings in early West showdown
ST. LOUIS — Monday night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues will be an early-season showdown between two of the hottest teams in the NHL.
The Kings and Blues both have 19 points, tied with Tampa Bay for the most in the league. The Blues have gone 5-0-1 in their last six games and are 9-2-1 for the season, while the Kings are 9-1-1 and have won their last three games, all on the road.
Scottie Upshall scored his first goal of the season and assisted on two more Saturday night to lead the Blues to a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, leading a big night for the team’s fourth line, which combined to produce seven points.
“We’ve been winning in different ways,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “I think good teams do that. Some nights it might be defense, some nights it might be goaltending, we’ve had special teams do it for us, we’ve had our defense score, our bottom two lines score, our top two lines have gotten lots done for us. I think that’s what good teams do. You have to find different ways to win hockey games.”
The same has been true for the Kings, who got two goals from Tyler Toffoli, the second the game-winner coming less than a second before time would have expired in overtime, to defeat the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Saturday night.
Anze Kopitar won a faceoff and got the pick to Toffoli for the winning goal.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen (again) anytime soon,” Kopitar said. “I’ve never seen it in my hockey career to work like that … You can say it’s luck. You can say it’s good bounces. But at the same time, we’re working hard and we’re working for those bounces. To see it pay off in the way it did tonight, like I said, we’ll take it.”
Kings coach John Stevens told the Los Angeles Times, “I don’t want to get carried away. It’s a huge win. We didn’t win a playoff series or anything, but it’s a big win. This group, I thought, battled hard. We told them sometimes it might take to the last second of a hockey game. I didn’t think it would be literally the last second.”
For most of the Blues’ games so far this season, their offensive success has come from the top two lines, but the third and fourth lines have combined to score three of the team’s last six goals.
Saturday night’s win improved the Blues’ record at home to 4-0, the only team in the league that has not suffered a home loss. Monday night’s game will be the second of four consecutive home games for the team.
The Kings, meanwhile, will be wrapping up a six-game road trip that has seen them pick up wins over Columbus, Ottawa, Montreal and the Bruins while losing 3-2 a week ago at Toronto.
“It’s going to be a fun game, for sure,” Yeo said. “It just seems like every night right now you come back to the rink and you’re getting ready for a real good, hard hockey game. The Kings have always been a real tough challenge, but looking at them right now, they’re playing with a lot of pace and a lot of confidence. It’s going to be a fun one.”