Kings score late goal to beat Blues

Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A shot by a Kings player bounces off the helmet of Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak during the first period of Tuesday's game in St. Louis. The Kings won 3-2. (Tom Gannam ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Willie Mitchell doesn't mind providing some punch to a Los Angeles Kings roster filled with firepower.

The Kings' defenseman scored his 25th career goal at an opportune time in his 664th NHL game.

Mitchell snapped a third-period tie with his first goal of the season with 5 minutes, 49 seconds left in the game to help the Kings to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

"It was big and his first of the season, and I think he's been waiting for that one for a while," Kings captain Dustin Brown said about Mitchell. "It's really nice to get it at this time."

Mike Richards scored a goal and assisted on another, the Kings got a team-leading 10th goal from Anze Kopitar, and Jonathan Bernier stopped 23 shots in only his fourth start of the season as the Kings won in St. Louis for only the third time in 11 tries.

"It was a difficult game," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "St. Louis came out in the first period and they were putting on a lot of pressure on the puck over top of us. It ended up being a pretty exciting hockey game."

Alex Steen and Vladimir Sobotka scored for the Blues, who lost for only the second time in regulation in 10 home games. Jaroslav Halak stopped 25 shots.

"I think the last two games in the last two periods, we've probably come off it a little bit in the third period," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We've kind of been the team making a few mistakes. We've made a couple errors in our own end that have ended up in our net or ended up us taking a penalty to give the momentum back to the [opposing] team.

"It's a frustrating loss for the players to battle back like we did and give it up so quickly. It's a tough loss."

Mitchell's shot from the left point got through after the Blues' Scott Nichol went down for the block. The shot beat Halak on the near side.

Steen put the Blues up 1-0 with his team-leading eighth goal of the season just 1:07 into the game off a nice give-and-go play with T.J. Oshie.

The Kings' Kopitar scored the tying goal 7:36 into the second, a power-play goal after Richards picked off Barret Jackman's turnover in the right corner. Richards fed Kopitar in the crease and he beat Halak.

Patrik Berglund nearly gave the Blues the lead twice late in the second period, once after stripping a puck at the blue line short-handed and creating a 2-on-1 breakaway. But Berglund couldn't finish his shot as Bernier made a shoulder stop. Berglund also had Bernier rob him in the slot on a backhand after taking Sobotka's feed.

"The difference for us was when we had all the chances in the second period and we couldn't grab the lead," Hitchcock said. "For me, that was disappointing."

Richards broke a 1-1 tie in the third when Andrei Loktionov picked off another Jackman puck, fed Richards in the slot and he beat Halak cleanly 4:41 into the period.

Sobotka got the equalizer for the Blues, finishing off Matt D'Agostini's pass in the left circle with 7:32 remaining.

"That last power play was very, very effective," Hitchcock said. "I think it gave us momentum leading up to (Sobotka's) goal. But when you're scoring two goals a game, you're living on a fine line. We've been on the right side of it for the most part. But we're going to have to extend ourselves a little bit better if we expect to win."

Notes: Murray (61) and Hitchcock (59) are the oldest coaches in the league. They have a combined 2,052 games coached between them; Hitchcock with 1,048, Murray 1,004. ... The Blues' top line of David Backes, Oshie and Steen has 13 points in five games. Oshie has nine points in nine games. ... Richards has now scored five goals in four straight games and has eight points in six games. ... Bernier made only his fourth start. ... The Blues placed D Carlo Colaiacovo (hamstring) on the injured list retroactive to Friday.

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