Despite losing their first game in front of new ownership and management, the St. Louis Blues still feel good about their chances for success as they rebuild from their worst season ever.
Winning on the road could go a long way toward boosting their confidence further.
The Blues try to avoid setting a new franchise record for consecutive road losses when they meet Los Angeles at Staples Center on Saturday in the Kings’ home opener.
St. Louis (0-0-1) got a goal from newcomer Bill Guerin with 5.6 seconds left in regulation to force overtime before falling 5-4 to San Jose on Thursday in the season opener for both teams. Starting goaltender Manny Legace, also making his Blues debut, gave up the game-winner to Curtis Brown 2:12 into overtime.
The defeat was the Blues’ 10th straight on the road, matching the franchise mark set from Jan. 20-March 8, 1982.
With new owner Dave Checketts and new team president John Davidson in attendance, the Blues’ futility on two other fronts continued. St. Louis’ winless streak in season openers reached a league-worst nine straight— including seven losses. The Blues also have dropped 19 of 20 overall, including four in overtime, since beating Columbus on March 13.
“We can walk out of here with our heads high,” said Legace, who finished with 29 saves. “We had a couple of breakdowns, but we’re right there.”
St. Louis’ incredible streak of 25 straight postseason appearances ended as it finished with the worst record and fewest goals scored (197) in the NHL last season. When Checketts and Davidson took over, though, they aggressively rebuilt a roster that had featured only two 20-goal scorers and four goaltenders.
Doug Weight, reacquired by the Blues after being dealt late last season to Stanley Cup champion Carolina, did not record a point in the opener. He’s had success in his career facing Los Angeles, recording 17 goals and 49 assists in only 51 games.
Legace, meanwhile, has yet to lose to the Kings in his career, recording six wins and a tie in eight games, including seven starts.
The Blues conclude their road swing on Monday against Anaheim.
Los Angeles (0-1-0) lost its season opener, falling 4-3 to the Ducks on Friday. Rookie Anze Kopitar, the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft, scored his first two goals in a 2:12 span of the second period.
Lubomir Visnovsky scored the Kings’ final goal on the power play with 5:07 remaining. The defenseman led Los Angeles in scoring last season with 67 points, including 41 with the man advantage.
He had just five assists—all on the power play—in four games against the Blues in 2005-06.
Goaltender Dan Cloutier, making his Los Angeles debut after an injury-shortened season with Vancouver, stopped 28 shots.
“They’re a Stanley Cup contender, and for us to play well like that against them is good for our team,” Cloutier said. “Our goal this year is to throw a lot of pucks at the net every game and shoot from everywhere.”
He’s 3-5 with a tie and a 3.21 goals-against average in 10 appearances, including nine starts, versus St. Louis.
The Kings’ 26 home wins last season tied them with Anaheim for second-most in the Pacific Division behind Dallas’ 28.