The LA Kings picked up a third straight win, by a 4-2 margin over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night at Crypto.com Arena.
The Kings got goals from Kevin Fiala, Carl Grundstrom, Adrian Kempe and Gabriel Vilardi in the win, with Fiala (1-1-2) and defenseman Drew Doughty (0-2-2) each posting multi-point nights . Goalkeeper Joonas Korpisalo recorded his first victory in a Kings jersey with 24 saves between the posts.
The hosts opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game through Grundstrom, who scored his first goal since returning from injury to put the Kings on the table. Defenseman Matt Roy fired from the point, Grundstrom deflecting just outside the slot for his seventh goal of the season and a 1-0 advantage.
St. Louis tied the game in the final two minutes of the opening period, however, to go 1-1 in the first intermission. Korpisalo made the first save on a shot by forward Pavel Buchnevich, but the rebound went past a Kings stick in the notch to the right of forward Robert Thomas, which buried the tying goal.
A scoring play gave the Kings the lead with the only goal of the second period. Forward Quinton Byfield tossed the puck high in the air, over everyone, to launch Kempe on a breakaway. The Kings forward shielded his defender to create some space and fired high at the blocker, past Jordan Binnington, who checked off, to put the hosts back in front.
The Blues tied the game midway through the third period with a shorthanded goal, leveling at two goals apiece. St. Louis forward Kasperi Kapanen caught a pass in his own end, skated the length of the ice on a breakaway and fired his shot past Korpisalo on the glove side for his ninth goal of the season .
The power play answered for the Kings, however, with the winning goal less than three minutes from the final buzzer. After being denied on his first attempt, Vilardi made a shrewd move into tight space, backhanding for the go-ahead goal. The scorer was his third in as many games, pushing the lead to 3-2.
Fiala froze the game in two minutes to play with a goal in an empty net.
Hear from Korpisalo, Roy and Head Coach Todd McLellan after tonight’s win.
On the differences between playing with a left partner and a right partner
I’m not really sure, (Gavrikov) and Durz are completely different players. They both bring different aspects to the game, in a positive way. It was nice to play with Gav today, he seems like a calm player in a good way, he’s always in position, he always does the right things, he has a great stick. It just makes it easier to play.
On partnering with Gavrikov, who is a ‘like-minded’ player
Yeah I think so. I’m still getting to know him as a player, but he wasn’t afraid to rush like me and he also focuses on defense. I think it was a good addition there and I’m excited to see what else it has.
On the comfort level of the group playing in single goal matches
Well, I think we are learning. We’ve kind of shown that in the past but I think going forward we’re going to have some confidence and like I said we know we have to lock it down and win the game, that’s so what we are going to do.
On Joonas Korpisalo’s debut with the Kings tonight
I thought he looked really confident. It’s not easy to play with a new team, not to understand calls or touches, what may or may not happen. I think part of goalkeeping is predictability and you end up in a situation where you don’t know the team at all. He made some great saves, I’m thinking of the deflection in the second half, a shot back behind our net. He understood the penalty kill, where we shoot and the things we have to do, so he looked really good.
On the team’s comfort level playing in one-goal games
I think we are comfortable. It would be nice not to be in this situation, but we are comfortable on both sides. We believe we can come back, we’ve shown it, and we believe we can keep the lead. Perfection doesn’t exist, we got bitten a bit there too. I think our goalies are solid, our Ds know what to do and our forwards, for the most part, get the job done. As much as you’d like to win 5-0 every night, playing those games once they’re over and you win is probably good for us.
On the game of the duo Gavrikov – Roy tonight
I thought they were both playing solid games. They killed games when they needed to kill games. I saw attacking instincts in Gavrikov tonight, where he jumped and went in holes and created or kept alive attacking plays, I was told he had that in his game. On the other hand, we broke a pretty good pair in Durzi and Roy. I think tonight we saw Durzi in a different position, which he should be used to but he’s not, and now he needs to recover a lot more and that needs to be tweaked. As we try to tinker, we help one and maybe hinder the other, but we want everyone to be flexible so they can play in and out of the lineup.
On Gabe Vilardi impacting back-to-back games with high skill plays for goals
Yeah, and I would even say three games, if you think about the game he played in Winnipeg. It’s not an easy thing you have to have very good hands and while you’re doing everything you have to have an idea of what’s going on around you so your consciousness is always alive and you’re not just looking at the puck. He has these hands that they have in these gloves and they have been in our organization for a long time. He’s starting to use them a lot more and he looks good doing it.
On the special teams that make the difference at the end of the match
I think that’s the kind of games we’re going to see as we approach the end of the year. Tight control, not a lot of space, kind of hitting in the corners and in tight areas and we have to be able to play both sides, with or without the puck. Then the special teams come in. Obviously our power play did a really good job tonight, our power play got us the win but put us in a situation where we needed it so it was a bit disappointing. A combined game tonight, probably.
– With the winning goal, Gabriel Vilardi extended his scoring streak to three games, scoring his third three-goal streak of the season.
– Carl Grundstrom scored his seventh goal of the season. He now has three goals in his last two games against the Blues (2-0-2, Oct. 31, 2022).
– Adrian Kempe scored his 29th goal of the year. He is now one goal away from recording consecutive 30-goal seasons for the first time in his career. The last Kings skater to record consecutive 30-goal seasons was Ziggy Palffy (3x, 2000-01 to 2002-03).
– Kevin Fiala (1-1-2) recorded his 20th multi-point game of the campaign. He is the first Kings skater to record 20 multi-point outings in his first season with the Kings since Craig Conroy (20 GPs in 2005-06).
– Drew Doughty (0-2-2) earned his 40th and 41st points of the season for his ninth multi-assist effort of the year, also scoring the eighth 40-point season of his career.
– Doughty also played his 1,077th game as the LA King, tying Luc Robitaille for the fourth most games played in franchise history.
– Matt Roy recorded his 12th assist and 21st point of the campaign, matching his single-season career high previously set in the 2021-22 season (2-19-21).
– Quinton Byfield extended his assist and point streak (0-3-3) to three career games. Viktor Arvidsson and Rasmus Kupari also picked up assists.
– Joonas Korpisalo stopped 24 of 26 shots in his debut for the LA Kings, while becoming the second Finnish-born goaltender to start for the LA Kings – Markus Mattsson (38GP).
The Kings are scheduled to practice tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Toyota Sports Performance Center.