Joonas Korpisalo made 24 saves in his Kings debut and Gabe Vilardi had a power play goal to take the Kings to a won 4-2 about the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Kevin Fiala, Adrian Kempe and Carl Grundstrom also had goals, and the Kings won their third game in a row. Los Angeles has won five consecutive times at home.
“Great game,” said Korpisalo, who took over from Columbus on Wednesday. “Guys played really well and helped me a lot today, especially at the end. After they scored their second goal, I think I didn’t have any shots after that, so it was great work.”
Kasperi Kapanen had a short-handed goal, Robert Thomas also scored and Jordan Binnington made 33 saves, but the Blues failed to score a point for the fourth time in five games.
“We were able to fight pretty well,” said Blues defenseman Justin Faulk. “They play a tight defensive structure and it is difficult to break through that. Sometimes you have to win the special teams battle against these guys, and we failed to do that.
The Kings traded for Korpisalo to give them a viable option if Pheonix Copley, the 31-year-old journeyman who has unexpectedly posted a 19-4-2 record, fades on the stretch or in the playoffs.
Their first look at Korpisalo was mostly promising, though a better run on Kapanen’s breakaway that took it to 2 with 7:49 left in the third could have eased the sting fans felt about trading franchise icon Jonathan Quick.
“I thought he looked very confident,” Kings coach Todd McLellan told Korpisalo. “It’s not easy playing with a new team, not understanding the calls or touches or what may or may not happen. Part of goalkeeping is predictability, and you end up in a situation where you don’t know the team at all.
“He made some really good saves.”
The mood turned positive again after Vilardi busted out Binnington with a nasty puck treatment to score the go-ahead goal with 3:03 left. Fiala added an empty netter with 1:56 to go.
“I think this is the kind of games we’re going to see,” said McLellan. “The end of the year is approaching. Not much space, kind of slugging in the corners and tight spaces. … Then the special teams come into play.”
Look Ma, these hands
Vilardi scored for the third game in a row, and all three efforts included impressive displays of puck handling.
“It’s not easy,” McLellan said. “You have to have really good hands, and while you’re doing everything, you have to have an idea of what’s going on around you so that your awareness is still alive and you’re not just looking at the puck. … He’s going to use them a lot more and looks good doing it.
King of trios
Since Quinton Byfield joined Kempe and center Anze Kopitar, the trio has become one of the most effective groupings in hockey.
When Kempe chased Byfield’s flip pass and scored on a breakaway for a 2–1 lead with 7:50 left in the second, it gave them 16 goals and 16 assists in 11 games since the All-Star break.
McLellan said Byfield was fine after being shaken up on a hit late in the third inning.
Comments: Blues F Jakub Vrana, acquired from Detroit on a trade Friday, was finally able to join his new team after weather delayed his flight. Coach Craig Berube expects Vrana to make his debut in the three-game road trip final on Tuesday. …Thomas played in his 300th career game. … Kings D Drew Doughty played in his 1,077th career game, tying Luc Robitaille for fourth in team history.
Next for the Blues: Tuesday night in Arizona.
Next for the Kings: Host Washington on Monday nights.