Kings build early lead, beat Blues

LOS ANGELES –– If the Kings weren’t cognizant of the records they were setting, they certainly seemed eager to hit their marks as they slathered on five goals in the first period, and they needed all that scoring and more to earn a 7-6 victory over the St. Louis Blues Sunday night at Arena.

They have now compiled the longest points streak in team history at 12 games and equaled the longest home points streak in franchise lore with at least one point in 13 straight. Though the Kings, to a man, said they weren’t watching such statistics closely, they certainly appreciated the steam they were gathering as April’s postseason loomed.

The Kings leapt back within two points of the top overall record in the Western Conference, magnifying the importance of an April 6 clash in Vegas with the first-place Golden Knights. Since Jan. 22, the Kings have picked up 80% of all possible points, the best rate in the NHL with Vegas’ 73.1% positioning as the next best team in the West and third best overall during that span.

Wingers Viktor Arvidsson and Adrian Kempe each potted a pair of goals with Arvidsson also notching an assist. Trevor Moore, who moved to center Sunday, contributed a goal and an assist. Winger Alex Iafallo and defenseman Drew Doughty had a goal apiece. Defenseman Sean Durzi and winger Kevin Fiala both returned from early-March injuries, and their two-assist performances lagged behind only center Phillip Danault’s game high of three. Pheonix Copley plodded toward his 23rd win by making 16 of 22 saves.

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Blues forward Jordan Kyrou tallied twice. Winger Brandon Saad, defenseman Justin Faulk, center Pavel Buchnevich and winger Kasperi Kapanen also found the net for St. Louis. Faulk added an assist while linemates Sammy Blais and Robert Thomas each chipped in two helpers. Joel Hofer stopped just 12 of 17 shots before being relieved by Jordan Binnington.

The Kings scored at even strength, on the power play and shorthanded, and all before the halfway mark of the first period Sunday.

They wasted little time as Arvidsson precisely placed a shot from the left dot just inside the near post a mere 27 seconds into the game. The Kings had scored in the first 90 seconds of three of their last four periods, including an early goal by Arvidsson to ignite the scoring in Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

A tic-tac-toe play with the extra man extended the Kings’ edge to two goals before the three-minute mark. Danault slid the puck low to Arvidsson, who slipped it across the crease for an Iafallo tap-in, his 12th goal of the season. After scoring four power-play goals all year, Iafallo has one in each of his last two games.

To complete the variety pack, Moore won a puck battle in the neutral zone and dropped the puck to Kempe during a penalty kill. He rambled onward and let fly with a tough-angle shot from the top of the right circle that caught a chunk of Hofer’s glove on its way past him on the short side at 7:35

St. Louis did find some respite during the deluge, getting a power-play marker off Saad’s shot from the slot 29 seconds after the Kings’ third goal.

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The Kings restored their three-goal lead with a second power-play goal with 5:30 left. A failed clearing attempt was intercepted along the wall at the blue line by Durzi before he alertly fired a seam pass to Arvidsson at the backdoor for a tap-in tally. Arvidsson’s second consecutive multi-goal performance was his fourth of the campaign and brought his total to 24.

They cushioned their lead with their third power-play goal of the opening salvo when Moore deflected Danault’s shot home for his ninth goal of the campaign, sending Hofer to the bench and summoning Binnington.

St. Louis cut their deficit to three just over three minutes into the middle frame, a contentious sequence settled the puck onto Faulk’s stick. He let a slap shot rip from the right point for his ninth goal of the campaign.

Arvidsson had opportunities to complete a hat trick in the second period, most notably the second penalty shot of his career just after the game’s midpoint. Unlike his first one, he failed to convert.

The Blues clawed back a goal off the counterattack and then halved their deficit with the extra man, making it 5-4.

First, Blais drew both Kings defensemen to him and found a wide open Buchnevich for goal No. 24 of 2022-23 with 3:55 left in the stanza.

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Ninety seconds later, Kyrou breathed life into the Blues with a power-play goal, his team-leading 32nd tally.

Yet the Kings wouldn’t stay in a tight affair for long, 4:37 into the third period, Kempe set a new career high with his 36th goal and gave the Kings breathing room with a one-timer from between the circles.

Kempe’s marker elicited an exchange of goals between the two sides. First, Kapanen scored his seventh goal in 14 games as a Blue and his second in two meetings with the Kings, 8:11 into the closing stanza.

Just 39 seconds later, Doughty struck back with a power-play goal of his own off a slap shot from the point. Doughty now has five goals and seven points in his five most recent outings.

That goal stood as the game-winner after Kyrou added a second goal, his 33rd, with 49 seconds to play.

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