The Kings hit the road for the first time this season and found no shortage of bumps as inopportune turnovers condemned them to a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday at Enterprise Center.
Defensemen Torey Krug and Vince Dunn notched goals for the Blues, as did forward David Perron before Jayden Schwartz added an empty-net goal. Jordan Binnington had an effective albeit uneventful night in net, contributing 21 of 23 saves.
Winger Adrian Kempe scored for the Kings. Cal Petersen made his second start in goal and bore the brunt of the Kings’ bad bounces and poor decisions with the puck, ceding three goals on 27 shots.
Petersen was shaken up early in the game after an awkward poke-check attempt led to his head colliding with Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and St. Louis forward David Perron.
He stayed in the game and made a superb cross-crease save on forward Jordan Kyrou eight minutes into the contest. He also denied defenseman Justin Faulk off another prime chance in transition.
Yet the Kings were hindered once more by a penalty, a familiar experience for them after having averaged more than five penalties per game in their four-game home stand.
Petersen fended off the initial man-advantage advance, but the Blues regrouped and moved the puck purposefully to Krug high in the zone. Krug blasted the puck as he fell to the ice and it zoomed through traffic to beat Petersen between his glove and his right pad 13:12 into the game
Petersen also made stops on forwards Robert Thomas and Mike Hoffman in succession in the final minute of the first frame. The Kings were out-shot 13-5 in a period that saw their puck management and checking deteriorate as time progressed.
The Kings drew even in the first minute of the second period as they secured the puck off a faceoff, moved it to Alex Iafallo on the left wing wall and into the high slot for a Kempe one-timer. It was Kempe’s third straight game with a goal.
St. Louis regained the lead less than two minutes later..
The Kings won a defensive zone faceoff but a turnover by Kurtis MacDermid put the Blues on the attack. They moved the puck to Dunn in a position similar to where Krug scored from in the first period. His knuckling wrist shot darted through the congestion in front of the net and over Petersen’s glove.
Defenseman Matt Roy lost control of the puck in his own end and St. Louis again made the Kings pay. Perron slipped the puck to Thomas, whose firm pass back to Perron led to the veteran forward’s first goal of 2021
For the second straight game, a 5-on-3 power play opportunity invigorated the Kings. With 3:31 to play, Brown tapped in a pass on the backdoor from Kopitar. As he did in their previous game against Colorado on an even-strength goal, Kopitar drew the defense to him, this time by gliding toward the net, and then lifted a saucer pass across to Brown.
The Kings converted just one of eight two-man advantage opportunities last season, but are two-for-two early in this campaign.
It was Kopitar’s NHL-leading seventh assist, and it came on a night when he moved into sole possession of third place for most career games played as a King.
St. Louis out-shot the Kings 13-5 in the first period and were still doubling them up at one point in the second. Though they closed that gap, the Kings failed to generate meaningful offense in the third and spent significant chunks of time in their own zone while trailing.
The Blues, who surrendered a whopping five power-play goals against Colorado earlier this season, took a late penalty, their fifth of the game.
But the Kings failed to convert in the final three minutes, first with a five-on-four power play, then with six-on-four and six-on-five advantages once they pulled Petersen from his goal.