Tarasenko scores three goals in Blues' comeback win over Kings
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has noticed something about Vladimir Tarasenko in the young Russian forward's first few NHL seasons.
"If he gets one (goal), he's hungry," Hitchcock said. "He gets his game to another level, which is what he did in the third period."
Tarasenko recorded his second hat trick of the season as part of a four-point night and the Blues rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.
"They're really tough," Tarasenko said of the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings. "They have a really good team, and they won last year, so this is good motivation for us and a good challenge."
The 23-year-old Tarasenko has 20 goals and 36 points in 31 games. He scored 21 goals and had 43 points in 64 games last season after scoring eight in 38 games as a rookie in the 2012-13 campaign.
"Vladdy shoots the puck so incredibly well that you just tip your hat," Blues captain David Backes said. "He's got 20 goals already. He's the real deal."
The Blues, who will begin a three-game trip against the Kings on Thursday, improved to 12-3-1 at home and 21-8-2 overall.
"Hopefully we can build on this momentum," Hitchcock said. "I think any time you play against good teams and you prove that you can play with them or you can beat them, it gives us another level of confidence."
Los Angeles (15-11-6) has lost three straight and five of six. The Kings have dominated the Blues in recent seasons, winning seven of eight in the regular season and 17 of 21, including the playoffs.
"This one is a sour one for sure," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "We have to put this one behind us. There's a new one on Thursday and we have to make sure we're ready for that one."
The Kings had taken control when Marian Gaborik scored twice in the second period.
Gaborik's first, at 5:39, came after a shot by Justin Williams from the left circle. The rebound was knocked around in the crease before Gaborik poked it in.
Los Angeles took advantage of an interference penalty by rookie defenseman Petteri Lindbohm for Gaborik's second goal.
Gaborik tipped a centering pass from Kopitar off the left post and into the net to give the Kings a 2-0 lead with 9:00 remaining in the period.
"Our team usually closes things out leading by two," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "We didn't do it tonight. It's very frustrating."
Tarasenko answered Gaborik's second goal with his 18th of the season, assisted by Steve Ott and Chris Butler, at 12:29.
The Blues then jumped on the Kings in the third period, following penalties by Dustin Brown and Robyn Regehr.
Jaden Schwartz tipped in Kevin Shattenkirk's shot on a two-man power play to tie it 2-2 at 11:20. Tarasenko gave the Blues the lead with a 5-on-4 goal just 40 seconds later, and Alexander Steen scored at even strength at 13:50.
"You kind of felt it in the game," Backes said. "It was time to sink or swim. Our guys responded really well. We get on our horse and start playing our game where we're getting pucks and forcing them to take a couple penalties there and we get a 5-on-3.
"Then we get one on the second half of that penalty, as well, and from there I think you started to see that glimmer in our eyes. Enough of taking a back seat to these guys, we can play with them when we're all in on the effort."
Tarasenko scored his 20th goal of the season into an empty net with 1:24 remaining.
"They scored four goals on not too many shots," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said.
NOTES: Blues F T.J. Oshie missed the game because of family reasons, but is expected to travel with the team for its upcoming trip. ... Blues D Carl Gunnarsson missed his fourth consecutive game due to a concussion. ... The Blues are 17-1 this season when scoring at least three goals. . St. Louis has outscored opponents 13-2 in the third period during the winning streak.