PREVIEW: St. Louis Blues face Kings again, finding California to their liking

Mar 5, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen (40) makes a save as St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn (10) jumps out of the way during the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues will try to extend their West Coast roll when they face the Los Angeles Kings again Saturday night.

The Blues beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime Friday night in the first of back-to-back games between the teams at Staples Center. That was the Blues’ fourth straight victory to start their six-game California road trip.

They are expected to start Jordan Binnington (9-6-2, 2.62 goals-against average) in the net Saturday. He is 1-2-0 with a 2.10 GAA and a .918 save percentage against the Kings this season.

Goalie Jonathan Quick (5-4-2, 2.87 GAA) likely will the start for the Kings. He is 2-0-0 with a 1.51 GAA and a .952 save percentage against the Blues this season.

The depleted Blues sustained still another injury when forward Oskar Sundqvist exited the game with a lower-body issue late in the second period.

Read More: RECAP: Blues score late in regulation, early in OT, beat Kings

They already were playing without forwards Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Robert Thomas, Tyler Bozak and Ivan Barbashev along with defensemen Colton Parayko and Carl Gunnarsson.

However, Tarasenko, who has missed the entire season while recovering from shoulder surgery, could return Saturday.

The Kings are striving to enjoy better starts. They have been outscored 26-13 in the first period this season, including falling behind the Blues 1-0 after the first stanza Friday night.

“I think the structure has been there the last couple of weeks,” Los Angeles forward Adrian Kempe said. “It’s just we’ve had some tough starts when we feel like we’re not really ready to go right away, where we’re kind of waiting to see what’s going happen. Usually the other team has been getting into our end a little bit more than we have in the first period. Then obviously we have to chase the game. Our second and third periods are usually pretty good.”

The Kings beat the Blues twice in St. Louis last week, 3-0 and 2-1, while executing their trap in the middle of the ice.

“They’re steady defensively,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. “They’re tight in the neutral zone. They kind of sit back and play that 1-3-1 or 1-4, whatever you call it. I think the main part is to not get frustrated. That is obviously their key to playing teams. They frustrate you, keep the score low and try to capitalize on their opportunities.”

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The Blues snapped out of a 8-for-64 funk on the power-play by scoring five times with the man advantage in the past three games, including David Perron’s power-play goal Friday.

Perron also scored a 6-on-5 goal for the Blues on Friday. Mike Hoffman scored the game-winner as St. Louis had a four-on-three in overtime during a delayed penalty against the Kings.

“The power play is obviously very important, especially throughout the regular season, to help your scoring, to help your skilled guys,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “They feel better about themselves when they’re scoring on the power play. It creates momentum for your team for sure.”

–Field Level Media