Something special emerged from a series known for ugliness.
Make that two special things. The legend of Cal Petersen grew with his first shutout, and fellow rookie Matt Luff scored his first goal in pretty fashion in a 2-0 Kings win against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center.
The Kings aren’t out of the woods. They’re still nowhere near a highway. But for one night, they steered the car to victory.
Here’s what we learned:
It’s shuddering to think where they’d be without goaltending
For the second time this season, a Kings goalie recorded his first shutout. Petersen followed Jack Campbell as the team’s endless reserve of defense continued.
Petersen has stopped 116 of 122 shots to start his career, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and Blues. That’s a stretch that could buckle some goalies, but Petersen, 24, is young and able. And it helps that former minor league teammate Luff picked up a memento too.
“We’ve been great friends, for the past two seasons in Ontario and up here,” Luff said. “I couldn’t be more ecstatic for his past three games. He’s been stellar for us.”
The third line earned its ice time
Luff, Kempe and Carl Hagelin have been effective and now they’re producing. Hagelin has shown his superb penalty killing, and Kempe seems to have crawled out of his early-season slump. The line was on the ice late in the third period while, conversely, Ilya Kovalchuk only played two shifts in the final 20 minutes.
“It was good to see that line playing well,” coach Willie Desjardins said. “That’s their third good game together.”
The coaching ax fell again
St. Louis announced the firing of Mike Yeo about 90 minutes after the game ended. He is the third coach fired this season, after the Kings’ John Stevens and Chicago’s Joel Quenneville.
That’s a reversal of last season, which did not see a coach fired until the first week of April. The Blues were shutout for the third time in four games, a startling lack of scoring that Kings fans can identify with on multiple levels.