Blues extend unbeaten streak with win over Kings
ST. LOUIS — Blues coach Mike Yeo has an easy way to measure the impact St. Louis left winger Jaden Schwartz is starting to have around the NHL.
“We’re starting to get a lot more questions about him when we are out of town, I know that,” Yeo said. “That’s when you kind of get a sense of it. You want that for your players. That’s not why he plays the game, he doesn’t play the game for people to talk about how good he is. At the same time, he’s human, and I’m sure he wants to be recognized for his efforts.
“He’s got to be in the conversation for the top players in the league. It’s great to see him perform at that level.”
Schwartz was at the top of his game again on Monday night, as he set up the Blues’ first goal and then scored his eighth of the season to lead the team to a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings in an early-season showdown between two of the hottest teams in the league.
The Blues (10-2-1) are 6-0-1 in their last seven games. They are 5-0-0 at home, and their 21 points are the most in the Western Conference. They had been tied with the Kings, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
The 10 wins for the Blues tied the franchise record for the most in October, and one of the biggest reasons has been the play of Schwartz.
His two points increased his season total to 17, tied for the second most in team history in October behind only the 19 scored by Brett Hull in 1991.
Schwartz has scored at least one point in 11 of the Blues’ 13 games, and one of the two when he didn’t score was in the team’s last game on Saturday night, when his line failed to register a point.
That left the trio of Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn more determined against the Kings (9-2-1).
“We weren’t too happy with our last game,” Schwartz said. “We knew we had better, and we talked about it and wanted to come out and play a hard game against these guys.”
It was Schwartz’s interception of a Los Angeles pass that led to the game’s first goal, by Tarasenko, 7:25 into the second period. It was his sixth of the season but first in six games.
Less than three minutes later, Schwartz knocked in a rebound of a shot by Schenn for his eighth goal of the year.
“You could see the purpose in their game right from the start,” Yeo said of Schwartz’s line. “It’s a really tough team to get offense on; you’re going to have to assert yourself and force them into mistakes and create opportunities. I thought they did that tonight.”
Tarasenko, who has received the bulk of media attention among Blues players in recent years, is one of Schwartz’s biggest supporters.
“Schwartz has always been a great player,” Tarasenko said. “We all know this. Whenever guys say something wrong about him, let them talk. We all know what kind of player Jaden is and better for us. He has unbelievable personality.”
The Blues also got a goal from Carl Gunnarsson — their 14th of the season scored by a defenseman, the most in the league — and an empty-net goal from Vladimir Sobotka.
The Kings challenged Gunnarsson’s goal for goalie interference, but after a video review, the goal was allowed to stand.
“If you look at the replay, (goalie Jonathan Quick’s) stick gets pulled out but no one knows what the rules are anyway,” Los Angeles winger Dustin Brown said. “Tonight, it was not goaltender interference, and two weeks from now it might be, I don’t know. That’s part of the problem.”
The Kings, who wrapped up a six-game road trip with a 4-2 record, got a goal from Tanner Pearson and a power-play goal from Brown, their first with the man advantage in six games.
“It’s kind of a sour note to go home on, but to be honest with you, I thought the guys played hard tonight,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “We’ll learn from this game and continue to get better.”
Quick and Blues goalie Jake Allen each made 26 saves.
NOTES: Kings D Drew Doughty played in his 700th career game. ... Blues C Brayden Schenn was drafted by the Kings with the fifth overall pick in 2009 but played only nine games for the team before he was traded to the Flyers in 2011. He was acquired by the Blues this summer. ... C Patrik Berglund participated in the morning skate with the Blues but is still not projected to rejoin the team until December as he recovers from a dislocated left shoulder. ... The Blues host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night while the Kings return home to host the Toronto Maple Leafs the same night.