Korpisalo solid on debut helps Kings beat Blues 4-2
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joonas Korpisalo made 24 saves on his Kings debut and Gabe Vilardi scored a power-play goal to help Los Angeles to a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Kevin Fiala, Adrian Kempe and Carl Grundstrom also scored and the Kings won their third straight game. Los Angeles has won five straight games at home.
“Great game,” said Korpisalo, who was acquired by Columbus on Wednesday. “The guys played really well and helped me a lot today, especially at the end. After they scored their second goal I think I ran out of shots so it was a great job.”
Kasperi Kapanen had a man down, Robert Thomas also scored and Jordan Binnington made 33 saves but the Blues went without a point for the fourth time in five games.
“We fought pretty well,” said Blues defenseman Justin Faulk. “They play a tight defensive structure and it’s hard to break through. Sometimes you have to win the special teams battle against these guys and we couldn’t do that.”
The Kings traded for Korpisalo to give them a viable option if Phoenix Copley, the 31-year-old journeyman who unexpectedly posted a 19-4-2 record, fades down the stretch or in the playoffs.
Their first look at Korpisalo was mostly promising, although a better performance on Kapanen’s breakaway, which separated it at 2 with 7:49 points remaining in the third, may have helped fuel fan anger over the replacement of franchise icon Jonathan Quick alleviate.
“I thought he looked really confident,” Kings coach Todd McLellan told Korpisalo. “It’s not easy playing with a new team, not understanding the calls or touches or understanding what can or can’t happen. get into a situation where you don’t really know the team at all.
“He made some really good saves.”
Sentiment turned positive again after Vilardi faked Binnington with a nasty puck handling to score the go-ahead goal with 3:03 to go. Fiala added an empty net with 1:56 to go.
“I think those are the games that we’re going to see,” McLellan said. “The end of the year is approaching. Not a lot of room, it kind of slings out in the corners and tight areas. … Then the special teams come into play.”
LOOK MA, THESE HANDS
Vilardi scored in his third straight game, and all three efforts included impressive puck-handling displays.
“It’s not an easy thing,” McLellan said. “You have to have really good hands and while you’re doing everything you have to have a sense of what’s going on around you so that your awareness is still alive and you’re not just looking at the puck. … He’ll be using them a lot more and he’ll look good doing it.”
KING OF THE TRIOS
Since Quinton Byfield joined a line with Kempe and center Anze Kopitar, the trio has become one of the most effective groupings in hockey.
When Kempe chased Byfield’s flip pass and went for a 2-1 lead on a breakaway at 7:50 in the second half, it gave them a combined 16 goals and 16 assists in 11 games since the All-Star break.
McLellan said Byfield was fine after being rocked by a hit late in the third.
NOTES: Blues F Jakub Vrana, who was acquired in a trade from Detroit on Friday, was finally able to join his new team after the weather delayed his flight. Coach Craig Berube expects Vrana to make his debut in the finals of the three-game road trip on Tuesday. … Thomas played in his 300th career game. … Kings D Drew Doughty played in his 1,077. Career play to tie Luc Robitaille for fourth most in team history.
Blues: In Arizona on Tuesday night.
https://fox2now.com/sports/st-louis-blues/korpisalo-solid-in-debut-helps-kings-beat-blues-4-2/ Korpisalo solid on debut helps Kings beat Blues 4-2