LOS ANGELES (AP) — If the playoff push transpires the way their game against the Los Angeles Kings did Monday night, the St. Louis Blues will be more than happy with the result.
Magnus Paajarvi scored a power-play goal, Jake Allen made 38 saves and the Blues extended their winning streak to five games with a 3-1 victory over the Kings.
David Perron scored late in the second period and Alexander Steen added an empty-net goal with 6.5 seconds left for the Blues, who lead the Kings by five points for the second wild card in the Western Conference.
“You knew they were going to come,” Allen said. “They were chasing us, you know. We didn’t expect any different. They pressed and we got the win and it was a huge win for us.”
Despite the high stakes, with the Blues also trying to catch Nashville for third place in the Central Division while trying to hold off Los Angeles, Allen insisted his team did nothing different or special to prepare to face the Kings.
“We didn’t think of it any different,” he said. “The standings will take care of itself at the end of the year. We just wanted to get a win.”
Getting the lead helped the Blues do just that. Jonathan Quick made an acrobatic initial save on Perron’s one-timer, but the puck trickled free underneath the goalie and Perron tapped it in for his 14th goal of the season 13:37 into the second.
Paajarvi then redirected Patrik Berglund’s shot to give the Blues a 2-0 lead 1:10 into the third.
It was Paajarvi’s first power-play goal since April 6, 2013, when he scored for Edmonton in a 4-1 loss to the Kings.
“It hit me more than I tried to tip it,” Paajarvi said. “I didn’t try to steal it or anything, it just hit me and it was a good goal, a huge goal.”
Dustin Brown scored with 2:55 remaining and Quick stopped 23 shots, but the Kings failed to earn a point for the first time in Quick’s six starts since returning from a groin injury.
Brown banged in a rebound to make it 2-1 late after Allen landed face-first to stop Drew Doughty’s shot. The Kings had the puck in the offensive zone for much of the closing minutes but could not come up with the tying goal.
“This one stung,” Doughty said. “It’s a frustrating loss, and we’ve got to get over it quick because we play again tomorrow and have to win that game.”
Other than Brown’s goal, Allen held the Kings in check. Facing a 21-shot barrage in the second, he was especially strong, keeping the Kings’ most dangerous line of Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli from each converting chances during one brief and blistering stretch.
“I don’t know too much about goalie, but you can see the confidence in him,” Paajarvi said.
Blues assistant general manager Martin Brodeur said after the team’s morning skate that Allen was ready to deliver, coach Mike Yeo said afterward, adding that the former New Jersey star goalie is always right in his assessments.
If Allen is as confident about his own play and St. Louis’ playoff chances as Brodeur, he isn’t as bold in his pronouncements.
“Just trying to give the guys an honest chance every single night. I think that’s my objective from here on out,” Allen said. “Hopefully I can carry it into the playoffs.”