Center Tyler Toffoli celebrates after scoring a goal against the St. Louis… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)
They weren't going to come right out and say that they played down to the level of their opponents the other night.
Hockey players, after all, are unfailingly polite when they aren't on the ice. But the Kings nicely tweaked it the other way after Saturday's flop against Calgary and said they would have no problems getting up for the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues, a familiar playoff foe, are simply the regular-season healing agent for the Kings. On Monday, the Kings scored twice in the first period, built on that effort and barely held on, beating St. Louis, 3-2, at Staples Center.
It was their seventh victory over the Blues in their last eight regular-season meetings. Meanwhile, the Kings have given up two goals or fewer in the last 13 games, a franchise record.
"The past couple of games we didn't play our game at home," said Kings forward Tyler Toffoli, who scored twice. "Tonight, we needed to make a statement against a good team, a similar team to us. We had to come out hard, play the body and I thought we did a good job of that."
Goalie Ben Scrivens, who faced 27 shots, came within 5 minutes 54 seconds of his fourth shutout of the season. But St. Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who was wide open in the left circle, ended that bid after a nifty cross-ice pass from Vladimir Tarasenko.
It was the second goal of the season for Shattenkirk, who struggled in a big way at the other end. He was on the ice for all three Kings goals. The combination of Shattenkirk and Tarasenko worked to create the other St. Louis goal with Tarasenko scoring with 15.5 seconds remaining.
"They put on some pressure and I think we laid off a little too much," said Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin.
Scrivens and the Kings managed to shut down star forward Alex Steen, who has been among the league's scoring leaders with 20 goals and 31 points. Steen had been held without a point only four times before Monday and mustered three shots on goal.
Unlike the Flames game, Scrivens got some early help as the Kings' recent, near-dormant offense returned in a big rush.
Toffoli put up his first two-goal game since Nov. 9 against Vancouver and scored his first goal since Nov.17 against the Rangers. Veteran center Jarret Stoll, who opened the scoring at 10:38 of the first period with a snap shot through traffic from above the left circle, ended a longer drought, having gone goal-less since Oct.30.
There were other components behind the victory besides the Kings simply relishing another shot at the Blues. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter juggled a few lines in the aftermath of Saturday's flat showing, a 2-1 loss to the Flames, putting Jeff Carter together with center Anze Kopitar and Dwight King.
Mike Richards, who had two assists, centered Jordan Nolan and Toffoli, and Stoll was with captain Dustin Brown and Justin Williams. Matt Frattin, who had missed four games because of a lower-body injury, returned to the lineup.
Sutter was unavailable for comment after the game.
"I think we knew we had to come out with a good game," Toffoli said. "When you lose a game, you've got to come out hard the next night, especially at home. I thought we did a good job responding."