ST. LOUIS – T.J. Oshie wore a big smile the whole game. The St. Louis Blues had one too, after getting one of their injured forwards back and ending a three-game home losing streak.
Erik Johnson scored the go-ahead goal on a third-period shot that slowly trickled between goalie Jonathan Quick’s pads in a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. Oshie was the No. 1 star, returning with a solid effort from a broken left ankle that sidelined him for 31 games.
“Obviously, the legs and lungs aren’t where you want them to be. You can’t really match a game just skating by yourself,” Oshie said after playing nearly 18 minutes over 20 shifts with two shots and a minus-1 rating. “But all is well. Even after a bad shift it was kind of hard to wipe the grin off my face.”
Oshie got a loud ovation when he was announced as one of the starters. The Blues were 9-1-2 before Oshie, a first-round draft pick in 2005, was injured, and he led the team in scoring with a goal and nine assists when he was hurt.
“Was it top-notch T.J. Oshie? No,” coach Davis Payne said. “But it’s the first game in a couple months, so we’ll take it.”
Patrik Berglund snapped a 3-for-38 power-play drought in the first period for the Blues, who won for the second time in seven games and leapfrogged a point ahead of Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings. Jaroslav Halak raised his career mark against Los Angeles to 7-1, making 26 saves.
Matt Greene ended a 10-game point drought with his first goal of the season for the Kings, who are in a 2-9 slump. Quick made his first start in three games and made 24 saves, but couldn’t control Johnson’s innocent looking point shot with 6:47 to go.
“I tried to smother it and it got through me,” Quick said. “A bad goal at the end of the game cost us.”
Kings coach Terry Murray concurred, calling it “a play that you’ve got to have 100 per cent of the time.”
Johnson has scored in two straight games and has a point in the last four after getting his fifth goal of the season. He wasn’t expecting a goal, and thought Quick might have been distracted by David Backes, who was charging to the net and ended up getting driven into the cage.
“I was just shooting to see what happened, and if it didn’t go in Backes was there for the rebound,” Johnson said. “Good things happen when you put it there.”
Quick refused to use Backes as an excuse, saying “Nope, it went through.”
The Blues remain without forwards David Perron and Andy McDonald, both out with concussions. Tough guy Cam Janssen, among the inactives, put his arm around Perron and hustled him out of the press area between the first and second periods.
Payne said neither Perron, out since Oct. 31, nor McDonald, out since Dec. 1, was close to returning.
“No update there,” Payne said. “Status quo still, dealing with symptoms and still healing.”
Blues defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo was struck in the face by a puck for the second time in four games, felled by Drew Doughty’s shot on a rush in the second period. Colaiacovo headed straight for the dressing room and did not return to the game.
Payne said Colaiacovo was struck close to the eye. He was hit just above the mouth the first instance.
Berglund’s ninth goal, and first in 11 games, capitalized on a 5-on-3 advantage. Greene tied it at 16:21 of the second with his first goal of the season on a shot from the point that made it through traffic.
NOTES: St. Louis has sold out all 24 home games. … Blues D Roman Polak had only 14 penalty minutes in 20 games before fighting the Kings’ Kyle Clifford in the first period. … The Kings have been outscored 39-28 during their slump. … The Kings are 0-5-1 against the Blues since Dec. 5, 2009.