Gagne Closes (And Opens) a Blue Rout
At long last in what seemed like an eternity, the Kings made their triumphant return home from Europe and rewarded the sold out STAPLES Center crowd with a 5-0 rout of the St. Louis Blues.
“It’s always fun to go to a hockey game and see some goals,” Simon Gagné remarked.
And while most Angelenos are used to a Gagné closing games, Simon not only satisfied this by closing the scoring in the game. But he also got the scoring started midway in the first period cleaning up Jarret Stoll’s shot attempt that was blocked to the left of the crease.
“It’s always fun when you’re able to chip in and score some goals,” Gagné said. He had a couple of great chances to get the hat trick in the closing minutes of the game, but that didn’t put a damper on his night by any means.
“Actually two nice passes by my linemates, one by [Justin] Williams and one by [Anze] Kopitar. I was unable to finish it, but all in all I’m happy about the first game at home.”
With a score like that, head coach Terry Murray was definitely pleased.
“Very good effort, very good outcome,” Murray said.
At practice on Monday, Murray stressed the importance of the first home game back from a road trip and avoiding the emotional fatigue that can plague teams in that situation. Combined with the fact that the Kings had lost seven straight games coming into this contest, there was not much room for complaint.
“Everybody had awareness to it, and it was a solid team effort on all four lines, the defensemen and [goaltender Jonathan] Quick,” Murray said. “I thought they really paid attention to detail.”
One detail the Kings really paid attention to was getting the puck to the net. Kopitar early in the third period got the puck at the top of the right faceoff circle and shot the puck to Blues’ goaltender Jaroslav Halak to give the Kings the 4-0 lead.
“There was a little better shot mentality on the game,” Murray said. “We were able to get pucks to the net, and for me that’s a real positive.”
As for the Blues, forward Matt D’Agostini summed it up best: “It just wasn’t our night.”
For the fans they were treated to the players walking the black carpet as attendees of the Water Environment Federation gawked from the Convention Center next door. The fans certainly responded to the new sound system installed during the offseason at STAPLES Center going crazy from the drop of the puck.
“We knew the building was going to be pretty loud,” Kopitar said. “We were excited to come back.”
And it showed.
Gagné’s two goal, one assist output. Even Dustin Penner got an assist. And perhaps most amazingly a power-play goal scored by Dustin Brown late in the second period (but I won’t mention that it was a 5-on-3 goal.)
I haven’t even mentioned defenseman Slava Voynov’s NHL debut with Drew Doughty on the injured reserve.
As always, goalie Jonathan Quick kept things in perspective. Despite just coming off the ice recording his 99th win 15th career shutout, he wasn’t throwing confetti up in the air.
“At the end of the day, it’s still two points.”
The Kings head to Phoenix for one game on Thursday before coming back home Saturday night against the surprising Dallas Stars.