LOS ANGELES – Paul Kariya shook off an embarrassing play that led to an early short-handed goal, then did what he does best – score.
Kariya found the net twice in the final nine minutes of the third period and the St. Louis Blues got goals from Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes in the first two rounds of a shootout to beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 on Saturday.
“Paul has worked extremely hard,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “Even during that recent time when he wasn’t scoring, every night you could count him as being one of our best players because of his work ethic. He was checking, he was playing on the power play and he was killing penalties – which he hasn’t done a lot of in his career.”
Kariya’s second goal of the game and eighth of the season came during a power play with 2:20 remaining, giving the seven-time all-star four in five games following a 14-game drought.
“To be honest, I think I was playing really good hockey through that 14-game stretch – and for whatever reason, the puck wasn’t going in,” Kariya said. “But I’ve always said if I’m getting opportunities and I’m getting my shots, sooner or later they were going to go in. And it’s starting to come now.”
Brad Richardson opened the scoring with 5:24 left in the first period with his fourth career short-handed goal. Mason had just gathered in a long clearing pass off the boards from the Kings’ zone and tried to pass the puck up the middle to defenceman Eric Johnson, who suddenly veered away from it to avoid a collision with Kariya.
Kariya then tripped over Johnson’s skate, and Jarret Stoll was able to swoop in and get possession before setting up Richardson for a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that beat Mason to the glove side.
“There was miscommunication with the three of us,” Kariya said. “I was supposed to come back to get the puck, E.J. let it go and I tripped over him. It seems funny now.”
Boyes and Keith Tkachuk had second-period goals for the Blues and Chris Mason recorded six of his 36 saves in overtime before thwarting Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson in the shootout.
Kariya gave the Blues a 4-3 lead, using teammate David Backes as a screen to beat Jonathan Quick to the glove side after Kings defenceman Matt Greene was sent off for slashing. It was only the third power-play goal by the Blues in 37 chances spanning 11 games. They came in averaging a league-worst 12.5 per cent with the man advantage.
“We need our power play to be good,” Murray said. “If we’re going to have a chance to get points on a regular basis, you need a better power play than the 30th one in the league. Today, a great player shot the puck on that power play and David Backes created a good screen in front. I don’t think Quick saw that shot at all.”
Alexander Frolov scored the tying goal for the Kings with 34 seconds left in regulation, beating Mason from short range after Drew Doughty’s one-timer from the high slot was blocked by Backes.
Rookie Scott Parse and Jarret Stoll each had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who have been getting some much-needed scoring lately from unexpected sources with Kopitar and captain Dustin Brown having trouble generating offence. Wayne Simmonds had two assists, extending his career-best point streak to six games.
“He’s been working really hard, and he’s been really good in the corners and making plays,” Brown said. “He’s also gotten a lot bigger and stronger over the off-season. Another thing different about him is the confidence level. When you have that confidence, it gives you that consistency. And that makes a huge difference at this level.”
Stoll gave the Kings a 3-2 lead with 11:29 left in regulation. But Kariya got the equalizer just 27 seconds later with Quick out of position after a previous shot by the Blues hit a player in front.
“Paul’s finally getting rewarded with a few goals,” Backes said. “That backdoor one is probably one of the earlier ones he’s scored, as far as being in the right place at the right time. But he worked his butt off all night and deserved to have a little success for himself. Hopefully, that’ll translate into more wins for our team.”
NOTES: The Kings held a pre-game ceremony to honour Luc Robitaille, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 9. Robitaille is the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer and the highest scoring left wing in league history. He currently is the Kings’ president of business operations. … Murray, who holds the Kings club record with 215 regular-season victories, is 8-5-0 against them since taking the Blues job.