Two days after an embarrassing loss at Colorado, the Kings overcame an early deficit and grabbed a victory in their final game before the All-Star break and their bye week. They won’t practice again until Feb. 1 and won’t play again until Feb. 2, when they face the New York Islanders to start a six-game trip. “You want to kind of finish on a good note,” team captain Anze Kopitar said. “Going into the break now, it’s reset and come back and win games.”
What we learned from the Kings’ 4-3 victory over St. Louis on Monday:
The break will help mentally and physically
Defenseman Paul LaDue, who played 11 minutes and 40 seconds in his first appearance since Dec. 29 and scored the winner against the Blues, said the long stretch between games can be a time for players to reflect on where they are and where they’d like to be.
“We definitely can learn from our season so far,” he said. “Especially the last few weeks. We’ve been playing well. You take it kind of as a new start, but at the same time we’ve got to learn from what we’ve been doing earlier in the season. I think we’re going to come back strong. We’ve got a big road trip and our guys are going to be focused.”
They won’t play at Staples Center again until Feb. 14, but LaDue said that’s not necessarily bad. “It’s good for us to get those road games in. They’re tough but it can really help build the team if we come away with a few wins,” he said.
They bounced back nicely after a terrible effort
Several players used the word “embarrassing” to describe their 7-1 loss at Colorado on Saturday and said they felt compelled to come up with a better performance on Monday. “Coming in here we obviously wanted to come out hard. Maybe not the start we wanted but we battled back,” Kopitar said, referring to St. Louis’ early 2-0 lead. “Even that first period, we were down but we generated quite a few chances, just couldn’t connect on them. But we stuck with it and at the end of the day, got the job done.”
Interim coach Willie Desjardins was pleased with the team’s response. “I do believe there’s lots of character in that room,” he said. “It’s funny, we seem to play good when teams are on a roll. Whenever we get hot teams we seem to rise and play well. I think we have lots of good leadership and when things don’t go right those guys step up and they’ll get us going the right way.”
Brendan Leipsic made an impact
The 24-year-old forward, who was claimed off waivers from Vancouver on Dec. 3, had his first multi-point game with the Kings. He set up the Kings’ first goal, by Tyler Toffoli, and their last, with a nifty pass to LaDue. He mostly played on the left side with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. Alex Iafallo rejoined the first line, which put Ilya Kovalchuk on the third line with Carl Hagelin and Adrian Kempe.
“When we watched him, he had some skill, offense skill, and he’s done it for us,” Desjardins said of Leipsic. “He’s made some good plays. He’s a good passer, he’s good on the power play. That last pass was a good one to get the winner.”