Kings Finally Return To Staples Center For Home Opener
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(AP) – The mood may not be too festive for the Los Angeles Kings in their long-awaited home opener.
They will be without All-Star defenseman Drew Doughty as they try to end a seven-game slide against the St. Louis Blues and earn their first win over Jaroslav Halak on Tuesday night.
Doughty, who signed an eight-year, $56 million contract last month, was placed on injured reserve Sunday with an upper-body injury sustained in a 3-2 overtime win at Philadelphia on Saturday. Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo leveled Doughty with a shoulder-to-chest hit 24 seconds into the contest.
Doughty, a former Norris Trophy finalist, missed almost all of training camp while negotiating the deal that put him among the NHL’s highest-paid defensemen.
Los Angeles (2-1-1) will be the second-to-last team in the league to open at home. The Kings started the season with games in Stockholm and Berlin before playing twice on the East Coast.
“It’s been a long time. We’ve been in Germany and Sweden. We’ve been in almost every time zone since the start of training camp,” right wing Justin Williams said. “So it’ll be nice to get home. I know everyone is looking forward to it.”
The Kings may not be looking forward to facing Halak, who has gone 5-0-0 with a 1.20 GAA in five career starts against them – 3-0-0 with a 0.67 GAA last season.
The Blues’ No. 1 goaltender, though, has struggled to an .848 save percentage and 3.05 GAA in four starts this season. He stopped 19 shots in a 4-2 loss at Anaheim on Sunday, allowing three goals in a five-minute span of the third period.
“I think we played a good 40 minutes,” Halak said. “Then in the third period, we killed the penalty and they scored right away on a lucky bounce for their guy. It seemed like they took over and they scored two more goals. It was too late for us to start playing again, and we just have to learn from it.”
Like Los Angeles, St. Louis will also be missing a top player, as the club placed center Andy McDonald on injured reserve Monday due to a concussion he sustained Thursday. McDonald missed 24 games with a concussion last season.
St. Louis (2-3-0) outscored Los Angeles 15-6 in four meetings last season. The Blues have won the last six matchups in regulation.
The Blues have lost two of three entering the finale of this road trip. They are 1 for 20 on the power play this season and have allowed at least one power-play goal in every game.
“We lose by two goals in our last two games on the specialty teams battle,” captain David Backes said. “We need to be better there.”
The Kings will be looking for a strong effort from Anze Kopitar, who has a team-high seven points this season but only four during the losing streak to the Blues. This will be Kopitar’s first game at Staples Center since he suffered a season-ending ankle injury March 26.
Jonathan Quick has posted a 3.69 GAA in starting every game during the slide versus St. Louis.