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‘Struggling’ Blues set to face revived Kings

Oct 26, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) shoots against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues will try to snap one of their worst slumps in recent years when they host the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

The Blues have been dealt four consecutive regulation losses for the first time since Craig Berube took over as head coach during the 2018-19 season. Opponents have outscored the Blues 20-7 during the current downturn.

Meanwhile, the Kings earned an impressive 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at home Saturday in advance of their trip to St. Louis. The Kings have won two of their past three games after a 3-4 start.

It leaves the Blues feeling urgency to clean up their game.

“It’s unacceptable to play like this,” Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We have some time before next game to figure it out.

“It has been a few rough games for us. Obviously losing sucks, but I’ve seen worse. … We’re confident in ourselves. The main thing is we should play better at home, and away games. We’re about to fix it, that’s it.”

The Blues at least got their offense going again during a 7-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. Winger Jordan Kyrou scored a pair of goals to give him three on the season.

Pavel Buchnevich came off the injured reserve list to join Tarasenko and Robert Thomas on the top forward line. But the Blues had multiple defensive breakdowns while blowing a 3-1 lead.

“Obviously, we’re struggling right now,” defenseman Colton Parayko said. “A little adversity for our group, but what we got to do is we’ve got to fight through it. We got to stick with it, stick together as a group. That’s a good thing about our group is we’re going to stick together. We’re gonna work our way through it.”

Kings coach Todd McLellan has shuffled his forward lines by moving Gabriel Vilardi to the top group with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe, while sliding Kevin Fiala down to the third line.

Fiala scored a goal and added an assist against the Maple Leafs while driving play for his trio.

“Kevin coming in has added a dimension,” McLellan said. “I thought him playing in the position he did tonight balanced things out a little bit more. He’s been able to create with workers and creative players in his career, so he did a real good job there.”

Vilardi has been on the top line after finally overcoming an earlier back injury and gaining his offensive touch. He has three goals and an assist in his past three games.

“I don’t think there’s a more confident guy around here,” Kopitar said. “Listen, it’s great to see. Obviously, he’s had a couple tough years, a couple uncertain years, so the fact that he’s gotten off to a start that he is, it’s great for us, it’s great for him and we’re gonna need him to compete.”

McLellan also gave forward Rasmus Kupari his first look this season. The team recalled him from Ontario of the American Hockey League on Saturday.

Blues winger Brandon Saad (upper-body injury) is questionable for Monday. He has missed the past four games.

–Field Level Media