Blues still looking for answers against Kings

From staff and wire reportsDecember 3, 2013 

Nine straight losses to the Kings in Los Angeles suggests something a bit larger than a trend.

The St. Louis Blues closed out a 1-2 road trip Monday by falling behind 3-0 to the Kings before tacking on a pair of late goals. It was the Blues' ninth straight loss in L.A. counting playoffs and the regular-season.

"We showed character in the third by pushing back a little bit," Blues captain David Backes said after his team lost two straight in regulation for the first time this season. "But at some point, we need to learn our lesson that if you give good teams leads, it's a heck of an uphill climb to try to get back in the game."

The road trip included a 4-1 win at Colorado and a 6-3 loss at San Jose. The Blues (18-5-3) return home to face the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock talked about the Kings' heavy, physical style, which took its toll again as his team fell behind 3-0.

"They force you. They're a physical, hard-checking team. But we have to have a better reaction than we did," Hitchcock said. "They took it to us. We revved it up halfway through the hockey game, but you can't play like that."

Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves for the Blues. Halak had allowed just five goals in his previous five starts after getting pulled with a 3-0 deficit in the first period of a 4-1 loss at Washington on Nov. 17.

Kings rookie Tyler Toffoli had two goals for the Kings, Jarret Stoll also scored and backup goaltender Ben Scrivens made 25 saves.

Toffoli, a 21-year-old center taken in the second round of the 2010 draft, has six goals -- four have been game-winners -- and 11 points in 14 games since he was recalled from the minors on Nov. 2. His only other two-goal game in the NHL was on Nov. 9 at Staples Center in a 5-1 win over Vancouver.

Toffoli made his NHL debut late last season and opened some eyes with his stellar play during the playoffs with two goals, four assists and a plus-5 rating in 12 games.

Scrivens, who has performed brilliantly in place of the injured Jonathan Quick, was heading toward his fourth shutout of the season when Kevin Shattenkirk and Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the Blues in the final 5:54.

Shattenkirk's goal came 6 seconds after the Kings killed off a power play caused by Colin Fraser's slashing penalty.

Scrivens has given up fewer than three goals in each of his last 10 starts and has posted two shutouts since Quick went on injured reserve with a groin strain on Nov. 12 at Buffalo.

Los Angeles has allowed fewer than three goals in a franchise-record 13 consecutive games. The streak includes a pair of 3-2 shootout losses to Buffalo and San Jose.

The Kings, who hadn't had a first-period goal in any of their previous four home games -- all losses -- opened the scoring at the 10:38 mark. Stoll got the puck from Justin Williams near the top of the left circle and took a 40-foot wrist shot that glanced off defenseman Barret Jackman's leg and past Halak with Dustin Brown screening the goalie.

Toffoli made it 2-0 at 16:13 of the period, beating Halak from short range after Drew Doughty's long snap shot from the high slot deflected off Toffoli's stick and Halak's right shoulder before hitting the crossbar. He gave the Kings a three-goal cushion at 5:48 of the second, scoring from the low slot after Willie Mitchell's wrist shot from the left point caromed off teammate Mike Richards.

The Kings eliminated the Blues from the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons. In 2012, they beat St. Louis in the second round on the way to their first Stanley Cup title.

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