Kempe, Kopitar power Kings to comeback OT win over Blues
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Adrian Kempe scored 1:45 into overtime, Anze Kopitar had two goals and an assist and the Los Angeles Kings rallied for a 4-3 win against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Kempe scored off a pass from Gabriel Vilardi to cap a 3-on-1 rush and end a four-game losing streak after trailing by three goals in the first period.
Matt Luff scored and Jonathan Quick made 22 saves for the Kings, who had not overcome a three-goal deficit to win since Dec. 18, 2014.
“Now let’s face it, it’s not going to happen many nights when you score four in a row against a team like that and come back, but we were fortunate tonight to regain our game and that allowed us a chance,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.
David Perron had a goal and an assist for the Blues, who snapped a four-game winning streak. Jordan Binnington made 30 saves.
“Obviously we would have liked to have two (points), but you got to be able to try to close those games out,” said Blues forward Brayden Schenn, who had two assists. “But at the end of the day I guess we’ll take a point.”
The opening period looked as if it would encapsulate how the Blues and Kings had been trending in opposite directions. St. Louis came into the game with the NHL’s best road record, while Los Angeles had been in free fall since a six-game winning streak made their stated goal of reaching the playoffs seem possible.
But the Kings fought back, starting with Kopitar’s goal at 13:08 of the first. He scored on the power play at 18:09 of the second and set up Matt Luff’s goal to tie it 3-3 with 10.5 seconds left in the period.
“No one man does it by himself, but when your top player or players decide that they got to reel a game back in and do it the right way it’s real easy to follow,” McLellan said of Kopitar, who has two goals and five assists in his past four games. “When the alpha decides to play the right way everybody else follows and that’s tremendous leadership shown by him and few others tonight.”
Picking up where they left off Friday after rallying for a 3-2 overtime win, the Blues blitzed the Kings with three goals in 11:05 of the first period. Perron scored on a one-timer from the left circle after he and Brayden Schenn caught the Kings in transition 25 seconds into the game.
Los Angeles has allowed the opening goal in 15 of its 23 games this season.
Nathan Walker made it 2-0 at 4:38, finding himself alone at the right post for a tap in from Sammy Blais off another St. Louis rush. Ryan O’Reilly then scored on the power play.
“I think the turning point was the intermission in the first period when we decided that we couldn’t play a track meet style game against that team," McLellan said. “There’s a tendency to want to go and just open it up. I don’t blame the players for wanting that, bur for us to have success we got to play tight, we got to play along the boards. We’ve got to check our way to wins.”
Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko was a minus-2 and played 16:25 in his first regular-season game since Oct. 24, 2019, when he dislocated his left shoulder against the Kings. Tarasenko returned to play in two seeding games and two playoff games when the NHL season restarted before aggravating the injury, leading to surgery last August. It was the third surgery on his shoulder since April 2018 for the five-time 30-goal scorer.
“It’s always bad when you come back from a long time (off) and you lose, but it was some time to rethink everything in this life. It’s a privilege to be in the locker room, be able to play. I missed that, and nice to be out there with the guys again, feel that atmosphere, feel the game," Tarasenko said.
ON A ROLL
Perron scored three goals in the two games against Los Angeles, extending his point streak to six games in the process. He has four goals and three assists in that span. Schenn has two goals and four assists during a five-game point streak.
OUT OF ACTION
Blues center Oskar Sundqvist did not play after sustaining an undisclosed injury on Friday.
Blues: Wrap up their road trip against the San Jose Sharks on Monday.
Kings: Visit the Anaheim Ducks on Monday for the first of a two-game set.