The combination making up That 70s Line – appropriately nicknamed for the numbers on their sweaters – provided a tremendous boost for the Los Angeles Kings during their Stanley Cup run last season.
It’s picking up right where it left off.
Los Angeles seeks a third straight victory as it hosts the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
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Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli played a huge role as the Kings won their second Cup in three seasons, and they are Los Angeles’ top three scorers through four games this season after combining for seven points in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over Edmonton.
Pearson scored his third and fourth goals and added an assist while Carter and Toffoli had a goal and an assist apiece. They have a combined 16 points on the season.
"They’re scoring goals in different ways, contributing opportunities in different ways, which at the end of the day in this league, that’s what it’s about," said coach Darryl Sutter, who reached 100 victories 15 games faster than anyone in club history. "Right now they’re doing a real good job of that and they’re being rewarded."
Pearson is enjoying his line’s success, but he’s quick to point out that he’s most impressed with how the Kings (2-1-1) have bounced back after dropping their first two. Los Angeles has outscored its past two opponents 10-2.
"After winning the Cup last year, you don’t want to change stuff up," Pearson said. "I don’t think we really care about ‘That 70s Line.’ We don’t play for the numbers, we play for the crest on the front of our shirt."
The Kings now will face a rested Blues team that hasn’t played since beating Calgary 4-1 on Saturday. Paul Stastny, the St. Louis native who signed a long-term deal in the offseason, had three assists after scoring a goal in last Thursday’s season-opening loss to the New York Rangers.
Stastny assisted on goals by Joakim Lindstrom, David Backes and Alex Pietrangelo.
”I think we just got more comfortable out there,” Stastny said. ”The first game we were kind of getting the jitters out of the way. I think we just kept it a little more simple, and kind of created chances through turnovers.”
St. Louis (1-1-0) wasn’t happy with its start against the Rangers and focused on coming out of the gates better against the Flames. Lindstrom’s goal came 48 seconds into the game.
"We weren’t really waiting for the game to come to us and taking it to them," said Brian Elliott, who made 23 saves. "I think we executed for the most part the whole game."
Elliott has a 2.02 goals-against average while starting both contests. He made 30 saves in a 5-0 win the last time he faced the Kings on Jan. 2 after going 2-12-1 with a 2.62 GAA in his previous 15 starts against them, including the postseason.
Jonathan Quick allowed seven goals in his first two starts for Los Angeles, but he came within 21 seconds of a shutout Tuesday. He’s 13-3-0 with a 1.31 GAA in his last 16 against the Blues, including the playoffs.
Marian Gaborik didn’t play against the Oilers due to a lower-body injury, and there’s no timetable for his return. The Kings also have been without injured defenseman Jake Muzzin, who signed a five-year, $20 million extension Wednesday.