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

The LA Kings skated to a third straight win, coming away with a 4-2 margin against the St. Louis Blues Saturday night at 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 getting multiple points. Goalkeeper Joonas Korpisalo recorded his first win 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 where Grundstrom got the deflection just outside the box for his seventh goal of the season and a 1-0 advantage.

St. However, Louis equalized in the final two minutes of the opening period, scoring 1-1 at the first break. 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 game of highlights 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 get Kempe on a breakaway. The Kings forward shielded his defender to create some space and fired a high block past a pokechecking Jordan Binnington to put the hosts ahead.

The Blues tied the game midway through the third period with a shorthanded goal that tied the game at two goals apiece. St. Louis forward Kasperi Kapanen took a pass in his own zone, 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.

However, the power play answered for the Kings with the game-winning goal just three minutes from the final buzzer. After being disallowed in his first attempt, Vilardi made a smart move in a tight spot to 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 within two minutes to play with an empty net.

Hear from Korpisalo, Roy and head coach Todd McLellan after tonight’s win.

Joonas Korpisalo

Matt Roy
About the differences between playing with a left-handed partner versus a right-handed 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 great to play with Gav today, he seems like a quiet player in a good way, he’s always in position, he always does the right things, he’s got a great stick. He just makes it kind of easy to play with.

On partnership with Gavrikov, who is a “like-minded” player
Yes I think so. I’m still learning about him as a player, but he wasn’t afraid to jump in the rush like I am, and he also focuses on defense. I think it was a good addition out there and I’m excited to see what else he has.

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

Todd McLellan
About Joonas Korpisalo’s debut with the Kings tonight
I thought he looked really confident. It’s not easy playing with a new team, not understanding the calls or the touches, what can or can’t happen. I think part of goalkeeping is predictability and you get into a situation where you don’t know the team at all. He made some really good saves, I think of the deflection in the second period, a slot shot behind our net. He figured out the penalty kill, where we rotate and the things we have to do, so he looked really good.

At the team’s comfort level to play in one-goal games
I think we are comfortable. It would be nice not to be in that situation, but we are comfortable on both sides of it. We believe we can come back, we’ve shown that, and we believe we can keep the lead. There is no such thing as perfect, we have been bitten a bit there too. I think our goaltending is solid, our D knows what to do and our forwards get the job done for the most part. As much as you want to go 5-0 every night, it’s probably good for us to play in these games when they’re over and you’re winning.

About the Gavrikov-Roy couple play 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, jumping in and going to holes and creating or keeping alive some offensive plays, I was told he has 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 that he should be used to but isn’t and now he has to pick up a lot more and it has to be polished up. As we try to tinker around, we help one and maybe hinder the other, but we want everyone to be flexible so they can play in and out of line.

On Gabe Vilardi, who has impacted two games in a row with high-skill plays for goals
Yeah, and I’ll even discuss three games if you think about the play he made in Winnipeg. It’s not an easy thing, 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 your awareness is still alive and you’re not just looking at the puck. He has those hands, they’ve been in those gloves, and they’ve been in our organization for a long time. He will be using them a lot more and he looks great.

On special teams that make the difference late in the game
I think that’s the kind of game we’re going to see as we approach the end of the year. Tight-checking, not a lot of space, kind of swallows it out of the corners and in tight areas, and we have to be able to play on both sides of it, 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 but still put us in a situation where we needed one, so it was a little disappointing. A combo match tonight, probably.

Notes –
– With the game-winning goal, Gabriel Vilardi extended his scoring streak to three games, marking his third three-game hitting 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 multipoint trips 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 1,077. 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 2021-22 (2-19-21).
– Quinton Byfield extended his assist and point streak (0-3-3) to a career-high three games. Viktor Arvidsson and Rasmus Kupari also counted 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 at the Toyota Sports Performance Center.

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