Preview: Kings at Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko has been scorching hot for the St. Louis Blues over the last five contests, even if the reigning Stanley Cup champions only have one win to show for it (1-2-2). Tarasenko carries a five-game point streak (three goals, five assists) into Thursday's finale of a four-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings.
Tarasenko had a hand in all three of St. Louis' goals on Monday, collecting a goal and two assists in a 3-1 victory over Colorado. "When he gets going, he's hard to handle. His game is more well-rounded than you think. He doesn't get enough credit," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said of the 27-year-old Russian, who has recorded seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last six games versus Los Angeles. St. Louis has won seven of its last 11 games overall versus the Kings, who enter Thursday's tilt on the strength of back-to-back victories. Captain Anze Kopitar has made his presence felt in both Saturday's 4-1 win over Calgary and Tuesday's 3-2 triumph versus Winnipeg, scoring in each outing to boost his team-leading totals in goals (four), assists (six) and points (10).
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS West (Los Angeles), FS Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE KINGS (4-5-0): Jonathan Quick answered a disastrous start to the season in which he yielded 19 goals on 92 shots by tightening up his play over his last two. "I was asked a question the other day by somebody in the media group, and the insinuation of the question was, 'You've lost confidence in him,' and I think my answer was 'No, we haven't,'" Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said of the 33-year-old Quick, who has since permitted just three goals in his last two outings. "We believe in him, the team believes in him and he's playing and practicing really well." Quick has struggled to find success versus St. Louis, posting a 9-13-3 mark with three shutouts and a 2.47 goals-against average in 25 career appearances.
ABOUT THE BLUES (4-2-3): Jaden Schwartz carries a five-game point streak (one goal, four assists) into Thursday's tilt versus Los Angeles, against which he has erupted for 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his last 10 encounters. Schwartz isn't alone in tormenting the Kings, with Pietrangelo collecting seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last seven games while defenseman Justin Faulk has six (five goals, one assist) in his last seven meetings. Jordan Binnington hasn't been as fortunate -- albeit in a much smaller sample size -- as he yielded four goals on 29 shots in a 4-3 setback on Jan. 21.
1. Los Angeles LW Ilya Kovalchuk has just one point in his last five contests after erupting for six in his previous four.
2. Blues C Brayden Schenn has notched nine points (six goals, three assists) in his past eight games.
3. Kings RW Dustin Brown has been held off the scoresheet in each of the last four contests.
PREDICTION: Blues 5, Kings 2