The St. Louis Blues’ successful start to the season has become a faded memory.
Looking to halt a four-game losing streak on Saturday, the Blues visit a Los Angeles Kings team that recently ended a lengthy slide of its own.
St. Louis (5-6-1) opened 2008-09 by winning four of its first five games for the second straight season. Now, though, that promising start seems quite distant, as the team has since gone 1-5-1 and has dropped its last four games.
The Blues appeared poised to stop their skid on Thursday with a one-goal lead heading into the two minutes of regulation at San Jose, but gave up a game-tying goal to Ryan Clowe before losing 5-4 in a shootout.
“When we get that lead against a good team, we really need to clamp down and get those two points,” right wing David Backes said.
Rookie Ben Bishop made 39 saves through overtime, while Lee Stempniak had a goal and two assists for St. Louis, which is mired in its worst slide since losing six in a row (0-5-1) from March 5-15 and remains winless through two contests of its five-game road trip.
An injury to left wing Paul Kariya hasn’t helped matters. The Blues’ leader with 13 assists and 15 points, Kariya exited Wednesday’s loss in Anaheim with an undisclosed lower-body injury after apparently getting hit by a puck. His status remains uncertain for Saturday.
However, Blues goaltender Manny Legace (hip flexor) might be ready to return for his first action in more than two weeks.
Legace hasn’t played since he was hurt prior to the Blues’ 4-0 home loss to the Kings on Oct. 24, when he tripped on a carpet laid out for Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to drop the ceremonial first puck. He played the first period before giving way to Bishop.
Legace is 11-3-0 with a tie and a 2.78 goals-against average in 17 games against the Kings (4-6-2), who won Thursday for the first time since beating St. Louis. They defeated Florida 3-2 to end a five-game skid in which they had suffered four losses by one-goal margins.
“(Some) of those losses were heartbreaking,” rookie Drew Doughty, who had two assists Thursday, told the Kings’ official Web site. “We lost them in the last minute, so it’s definitely great to get this first win and that said hopefully we can keep rolling and get some more.”
Los Angeles killed off all five of its penalties, and has allowed opponents only six power-play goals in 55 chances (10.9 percent) this season. That penalty-killing unit will be tested by St. Louis, which has converted on 27.3 percent (15-for-55) of its power-play opportunities.
The Kings, who are 1-4-0 on their season-high seven-game homestand, have lost 12 of their last 19 meetings with the Blues despite last month’s victory.