The St. Louis Blues have recorded at least a point in five of their last six games (4-1-1) to elevate to the NHL's version of .500. The Blues bid to move closer toward a potential wild-card spot in the Western Conference on Monday when they open a five-game road trip against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson scored the go-ahead goal with 7:44 remaining in the third period of Saturday's 3-2 win over Ottawa. "He's hot. He's playing well for us. Obviously, a big goal for us (Saturday), sneaking in from that left side. It's nice to see him get rewarded," center Brayden Schenn said of the 32-year-old Swede, who has scored in back-to-back games and recorded at least a point in a career-high five straight in which he has played (two goals, three assists). Los Angeles enjoyed a rare positive in its disastrous season by posting a 2-0-1 mark in its last three contests before seeing the bottom fall out with a six-goal second period in Saturday's 7-1 shellacking by Colorado. "We left our goalies out to dry again. We're sick of doing that," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty told reporters. "When we win games, we leave them out to dry. When we lose games, we leave them out to dry. It's about time we play for them."
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ABOUT THE BLUES (21-21-5): Ryan O'Reilly has scored four goals and set up 12 others in his last 13 games to boost his team-leading totals in assists (31) and points (48). The 27-year-old's 17 goals are tied with David Perron, who saw his career-high 13-game point streak come to a halt after an upper-body injury forced him to sit out versus the Senators. Coach Craig Berube told reporters that Perron probably will not accompany the Blues on the two-game trip to the Golden State prior to the All-Star break.
ABOUT THE KINGS (19-26-4): Captain Anze Kopitar answered being held off the scoresheet in three of his previous four contests by setting up Ilya Kovalchuk's power-play goal in the third period on Saturday, boosting his team-leading total to 32 points. Kopitar sealed Los Angeles' 2-0 win over St. Louis on Nov. 19 with an empty-net goal, giving the Kings just their third victory versus the Blues in the last nine encounters. Doughty set up the 31-year-old Slovenian's tally in that contest and has an assist in each of his last two outings to boost his team-leading total in that category to 23 while moving within one point of 450 for his career.
1. Los Angeles G Jonathan Quick owns just an 8-12-3 mark in 23 career encounters versus St. Louis despite sporting a 2.38 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
2. Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko has answered a difficult December in which he recorded just two points by registering eight (five goals, three assists) in nine games this month.
3. Kovalchuk has two goals and an assist in his last four contests.