ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 22: Members of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate a goal as Barret Jackman #5 of the St. Louis Blues reacts after turning over the puck that lead to the goal at the Scottrade Center on November 22, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Kings beat the blues 3-2. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Blues jumped to a quick 1-0 lead in the first period, but after series of mistakes and failed opportunities, they fell to the Kings, 3-2 at home. It was the first loss in regulation since Ken Hitchcock took over as bench boss for St. Louis (4-1-2).
In the last meeting between the two teams, the Kings defeated the Blues 5-0, giving Jonathan Quick the start and shutout. There, Simon Gagne led the charge with two goals and three points. Tuesday, with Jaroslav Halak facing Jonathan Bernier in net, the Blues were a lot more challenging, actually scoring in this one, and certainly winning the physical battles, making for a more competitive game, but with the same result. St. Louis rarely turned it over in this game, but the times that they did, it cost them big time.
After the Alex Steen goal that gave the Blues the lead, there was not much more deciding action until the second period, where Steen almost scored again within the first couple of minutes on a deflection. This resulted in an offensive flurry for St. Louis, leading to another power play almost five minutes in. After the Blues failed to score there, the Kings were awarded with the man advantage and showed St. Louis how it was done, thanks to a nifty cross-crease pass from Mike Richards to Anze Kopitar after Richards picked up a turnover near the boards from veteran defenseman Barret Jackman.
With the game tied at one, the Blues started to forget about discipline and were whistled for two more penalties. St. Louis was about to close out the period with a power play of their own, but a slashing call on Alex Pietrangelo brought the onset of the third period with 4-on-4 play, taking away more chances for the Blues to redeem their 5-on-4 numbers.
Play evened out for a bit between the two squads until once again Jackman coughed up the puck to Andrei Loktionov, who passed it to Richards for the one-timer past Halak.
Now playing down a goal, the Blues drew a Gagne hooking penalty, and although they didn't score with the advantage, they cycled the puck and brought the game back to a tie. Just over two minutes later though, the Kings countered with solid pressure on Halak and as Jackman went down to block a shot, he failed miserably and allowed none other than Willie Mitchell to score his first goal this season and first goal in 27 games (dating back to last season).
The Blues scurried and pulled Halak from the goal with under a minute and a half to go, but were unable to get another game-tying goal past Bernier. To make matters worse for the Blues, with one second left, Drew Doughty hit Oshie from behind into the boards, causing Oshie to leave the game with the trainer. From the looks of the hit, Oshie may not be dressing next game, although it should leave room for Chris Stewart to return from his suspension. Doughty will most likely receive a call from NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan about the hit tomorrow and could face his own suspension.
The Kings did well though in spreading out duties -- whether it came to scoring or defensive responsibilities. There were times when Kopitar went down and blocked shots. And of course, all of this aided in Bernier's 23-save performance. He rarely faced pressure and was able to get clear view of the shooter to stop opportunities from St. Louis.
St. Louis, meanwhile, while they play with the fire needed to win, they will need to work on that 10.2-percent power play, if they plan on defeating stronger opponents this season.
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