FINAL – Kings 4, Blues 2 – Korpisalo, Roy, McLellan

The LA Kings skated to a third consecutive victory, coming by a 4-2 margin against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday evening at Arena.

The Kings got goals from Kevin Fiala, Carl Grundstrom, Adrian Kempe and Gabriel Vilardi in the victory, with Fiala (1-1-2) and defenseman Drew Doughty (0-2-2) each posting multi-point nights. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo recorded his first victory in a Kings jersey with 24 saves between the pipes.

The hosts opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game through Grundstrom, who scored his first goal since returning from injury to get the Kings on the board. Defenseman Matt Roy sent a shot through from the point, with Grundstrom getting the deflection just outside the crease for his seventh goal of the season and a 1-0 advantage.

St. Louis equalized in the final two minutes of the opening period, however, to take a 1-1 score into the first intermission. Korpisalo made the initial save on a shot from forward Pavel Buchnevich, but the rebound went past a Kings stick in the slot right to forward Robert Thomas, who buried the game-tying goal.

A highlight-reel play put the Kings ahead with the lone goal of the second period. Forward Quinton Byfield flipped the puck high in the air, over everyone, to spring Kempe on a breakaway. The Kings forward shielded his defenseman to create a bit of space and shot high blocker, past a pokechecking Jordan Binnington, to put the hosts back ahead.

The Blues tied the game midway through the third period with a shorthanded goal, equalizing things at two goals apiece. St. Louis forward Kasperi Kapanen picked off a pass in his own zone, skated the length of the ice on a breakaway and snapped 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 game-winning goal just shy of three minutes from the final buzzer. After he was denied on his first attempt, Vilardi made a nifty move in a tight space, deking to the backhand for the go-ahead goal. The marker was his third in as many games pushing the advantage to 3-2.

Fiala iced the game inside two minutes to play with an empty-net goal.

Hear from Korpisalo, Roy and Head Coach Todd McLellan following tonight’s win.

Joonas Korpisalo

Matt Roy
On the differences between playing with a left-shot partner versus a right-shot partner
I’m not sure really, [Gavrikov] and Durz are completely different players. They both bring different aspects to the game, in a positive way. It was nice playing with Gav today, he seems like a quiet player in a good way, he’s always in position, he’s always doing the right things, he’s got a great stick. He just kind of makes it easy to play with.

On partnering Gavrikov, who is a “like-minded” player
Yeah, I think so. I’m still learning about him as a player, but he was not afraid to jump in the rush just like I am and he focuses on defense as well. I think it was a nice complement out there and I’m excited to see what else he has.

On the comfort level of the group playing in one-goal games
Well, I think we’re learning. We’ve kind of shown that in the past but I think moving forward we’re going to have some confidence and like I said, we know we need to lock it down and win the game, so that’s what we’re going to do.

Todd McLellan
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 understanding the calls or touches, what may or may not happen. I think part of goaltending is predictability and you’re coming into a situation where you don’t really know the team at all. He made some really good saves, I think of the deflection in the second period, a slot shot from behind our net. He figured out the penalty kill, where we’re rotating to and the things that we need 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 that situation, but we’re comfortable on both sides of it. We believe we can come back, we’ve shown that, and we do believe we can hold the lead. There’s no such thing as perfect, we’ve been bitten a little bit there too. I think that our goaltending is solid, our D know what they need to do and our forwards, for the most part, get the job done. For as much as you’d like to win 5-0 each night, playing in these games once they’re over and you do win it is probably good for us.

On the play of the Gavrikov – Roy pairing tonight
I thought they both played solid games. They killed plays when they needed to kill plays. I saw some offensive instincts in Gavrikov tonight, where he jumped in and went to holes and created or kept alive some offensive plays, I was told he has that in his game. On the other hand, we broke up a pretty good pair in Durzi and Roy. I think tonight we saw Durzi in a different position, that he should be used to but isn’t, and now he has to retrieve a lot more and that has to get polished up. As we’re trying to tinker around, we help one and maybe hinder the other, but we want everybody flexible so that they can play in and out of the lineup.

On Gabe Vilardi impacting two straight games with high-skill plays for goals
Yeah, and I’d even argue three games, if you think about the play he made in Winnipeg. It’s not an easy thing, you’ve got to have real good hands and while you’re doing everything, you’ve got to have a sense of what’s going on around you, so your awareness is still alive and you’re not just looking at the puck. He’s got those hands they’ve been in those gloves and they’ve been in our organization for a long time. He’s getting to use them a lot more and he looks good doing it.

On special teams making the difference late in the game
I think these are the kinds of games we’re gonna see as we get closer to the end of the year. Tight-checking, not a lot of space, kind of slugging it out the corners and in tight areas and we have to be able to play on both sides of that, with or without the puck. Then, the special teams come into play. Obviously our penalty kill did a really good job tonight, our power play got us the win, yet put us in a situation where we needed one, so that was a little disappointing. A combination game tonight, probably.

Notes –
– With the game-winning goal, Gabriel Vilardi extended his goal streak to three games, marking his third, three-game 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 tallied his 29th goal of the year. He is now one goal shy of 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) registered his 20th multi-point game of the campaign. He’s the first Kings skater to record 20 multi-point outings in their first season with the Kings since Craig Conroy (20 GP 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 marking the eighth, 40-point season of his career.
– Doughty also skated in his 1,077th game as an 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 a career-long three games. Viktor Arvidsson and Rasmus Kupari also tallied helpers.
– Joonas Korpisalo stopped 24-of-26 shots in his LA Kings debut, while also becoming the second Finnish-born netminder to start for the LA Kings – Markus Mattsson (38GP).

The Kings are scheduled to practice tomorrow at 11 AM at Toyota Sports Performance Center.

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