(Photo credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)
The Los Angeles Kings aim for back-to-back home victories for the first time this season when they host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
The Kings, who are a league-best 7-0-0 on the road, snapped a three-game home losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday, just the second home victory in eight games this season (2-3-3). Only the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks (1-4-0) had fewer home wins.
The Kings' Cam Talbot made 30 saves against the Panthers to improve to 8-3-1, tied for second in wins in the NHL. Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist and Anze Kopitar scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the second period for Los Angeles, which is six points behind Pacific Division-leading Vegas with two games in hand.
"It's no secret that we need to make this building a little tougher to play in, and I think tonight's a good step in the right direction," Talbot said.
Special teams played a key role in the win over the Panthers. Los Angeles was a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill and survived another 2:17 of 6-on-5 at the end of the game when Florida pulled goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for an extra attacker.
Kopitar's game-winner came on one of the Kings' two power plays.
"Our PK was absolutely amazing tonight," Talbot said. "We just kept battling. It felt like they had possession for the whole two minutes a couple times. We bent but we didn't break. ... I think our PK won us the game tonight."
St. Louis comes in off a 5-1 loss at San Jose on Thursday in the first game of a four-game western road trip that includes a Southern California weekend back-to-back against the Kings and Anaheim Ducks, followed by a Wednesday contest at Arizona.
The loss to the Sharks snapped a three-game winning streak for the Blues that included an impressive 8-2 victory at Colorado last Saturday and a 5-0 shutout of Tampa Bay.
The road trip got off to a bad start when San Jose's William Eklund scored just 17 seconds into Thursday's game. The Sharks, who have the fewest wins (three) and points (seven) in the league, scored three times in the first four minutes of the second period to make it 4-0.
"I think the first 10 minutes of the first two periods cost us the hockey game," St. Louis center Brayden Schenn said. "We didn't come out intense enough in the first period. In the second period, in the first 10 minutes, the compete level wasn't high enough, the battle level wasn't high enough, and all of a sudden it was 4-0 before you know it.
"It's tough to come back in a league like this no matter who you're playing when you're down four (goals)."
Kaapo Kahkonen made 44 saves to record his first win in six starts for the Sharks. Pavel Buchnevich spoiled the shutout when he scored on a wrist shot with 6:05 to go.
"We're all disappointed," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "Coming in here, having a chance to keep building and gain points in the standings and it didn't happen. Didn't happen. Weren't good enough."
--Field Level Media