Blues-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 05, 2013
The last time the Los Angeles Kings hosted the St. Louis Blues, they completed a sweep of their playoff series on their way to winning their first Stanley Cup title. The Kings' recent surge started with a victory at St. Louis. Jeff Carter and Los Angeles look to continue their outstanding stretch by beating the Blues for the seventh consecutive meeting Tuesday night at Staples Center. The Kings (11-7-2) outscored the Blues 15-6 while sweeping them out of the second round of last season's playoffs, clinching the series with a 3-1 home victory. They beat St. Louis again Feb. 11, when Carter scored twice en route to a 4-1 road win for their eighth victory in nine meetings and sixth in a row including the postseason. Los Angeles has parlayed the most recent victory over the Blues (11-8-2) into an 8-2-0 spurt after sputtering to a 3-5-2 start. Carter has been a force with 10 goals in these 10 games, giving him 14 on the season to tie Pittsburgh's James Neal for second in the league, three back of Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. Carter has also found the net six times over the past four home games, while the Kings have won five in a row there. He netted a hat trick Monday, spurring a 5-1 romp over Nashville to open this five-game homestand. "He's been unbelievable for us and he's scoring some big goals," goaltender Jonathan Bernier said. "We need a guy like that who takes over, and he's doing that right now." It's unclear if Bernier or Jonathan Quick will be in net Tuesday. Bernier made 18 saves against the Predators to win a fifth straight start, allowing one goal in each. He had 21 saves at St. Louis last month to start that streak. "Every time (coach Darryl) Sutter puts me in, I've got to do my job," Bernier said. "I'm lucky that the guys have been playing very well in front of me, and that makes my job a lot easier." Quick allowed four goals in a 5-2 loss at Vancouver on Saturday, but has a 0.99 goals-against average and two shutouts while winning six of his last seven starts against the Blues. He's 3-0-1 with a 1.44 GAA in his last four home starts this season. St. Louis is 6-3-1 on the road, but opened this five-game trek with a 4-1 defeat at Dallas on Sunday, falling for the fourth time in six games overall. "We had too many average performances. What can you say?" coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Too many average performances doesn't get it done on the road." Production from Patrik Berglund would be a welcome change. The center leads the team with nine goals, but he has gone five straight games without a point after finding the net once in each of the previous four. Berglund doesn't have a point in the last 10 overall meetings with Los Angeles. Alex Steen scored St. Louis' only goal against the Kings last month, and he's managed four in the past six regular-season meetings. The center failed to beat Quick on 13 shots during the playoffs. The Blues may return to Jaroslav Halak after resting him in favor of Brian Elliott, who had 23 stops Sunday in his first start since making 19 saves against L.A. He's 0-4-1 with a 4.83 GAA over his last five starts, while Halak is 5-1-1 with a 1.90 GAA and two shutouts this season. Elliott has a 3.12 GAA while losing all nine of his starts versus the Kings, and he was in net during the postseason. Halak, meanwhile, is 4-2-0 with a 1.60 GAA and two shutouts in six meetings since arriving in St. Louis.
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