The last time the Los Angeles Kings were in town, little more than 11 months ago, the Blues lost 2-0 to what at the time was the NHL’s worst team. Just 90 minutes after that game, which dropped the Blues’ record to 7-9-3, the team announced that coach Mike Yeo had been fired.
“We were in a bad spot. That's basically what I remember,” his successor, Craig Berube, said Thursday. “That's it. It wasn't good for anybody.”
Nothing of the sort happened Thursday at Enterprise Center. Nobody got fired. And the Blues defeated the Kings 5-2, winning their second game in a row and improving to 5-2-3 for the season.
But a lot happened.
Brayden Schenn scored twice and now has eight goals, a total he didn’t reach until Jan. 5 of last season against the New York Islanders in Game 39.
Robert Thomas scored his first goal of the season, although you might say it took two takes.
If you had Ivan Barbashev in the pool for first Blues player to get into a fight this season, please step forward to claim your prize.
And stop if you’ve heard this before: goalie Jordan Binnington wasn’t on his best behavior, getting into it with an opposing player.
So yes, it was a wildly entertaining game played before the sixth consecutive sellout crowd of the season (18,096) at Enterprise.
But putting a damper on the evening was a first-period injury to Vladimir Tarasenko that could sideline him for a while. It was an upper-body injury and Berube provided no details after the game.
“Nothing. I don't know,” Berube said. “We'll wait till tomorrow on it.”
When asked if the injury was serious, Berube replied: “I really know nothing. Honestly.”
Tarasenko, who was skating well Thursday, was trying to get loose for a breakaway when the Kings’ Sean Walker caught him and spun him around. That occurred with just over 6 minutes to play in the period. Tarasenko did not play another shift.
Again there was no confirmation of the injury, but it looked like two things might have happened on the play:
• Tarasenko appeared to take an elbow to the ribs from Walker.
• And perhaps more ominously, Tarasenko’s left shoulder was stretched — or extended — by the contact with Walker. Remember, Tarasenko underwent left shoulder surgery after the 2017-18 season.
“Any time you lose a player it (stinks),” Thomas said. “Obviously a player like Vladi, it’s even worse. But I thought we came together nicely and really picked up for him when he was gone. Hopefully he’s back soon, but I think as a forward group we responded really well.”
But how can the Blues cope if Tarasenko is sidelined for a while?
“Well, we won tonight, didn't we?” Berube said. “We've got a good team, good players. Someone will step in.”
Several Blues stepped up Thursday because it was 1-0, Kings when Tarasenko suffered the injury. And 5-1, Blues, after the injury.
Vince Dunn scored a power play goal to tie it at 1-all late in the first period. After the Kings took a 2-1 lead on an Alex Iafallo goal three minutes into the second period, it was all St. Louis.
A sequence involving Binnington and Kings forward Kyle Clifford energized the Blues.
After Clifford upended Barbashev near the Blues’ net for an interference penalty, Binnington took offense. He skated right over to Clifford, and next thing you know, Clifford took a hard shove at Binnington.
“I always skate to the corner (during play stoppages),” Binnington said. “We just crossed paths.”
His argument was unconvincing and he quickly came clean.
“I expected that (shove),” Binnington said. “You’re staring at a guy for over five seconds and something’s gonna happen.”
It was Binnington who did the staring, and Clifford later confirmed that no words were spoken. Just staring.
"I don't know what he was doing,” Clifford said. “He's a mute. Didn't say a word."
In any event, Barbashev and Sundqvist were over there in an instant, pounding away on Clifford. Their message was obvious: Hands off our goalie.
“I don’t think anyone liked that (shove),” Barbashev said. “You always have to step up for your goalie because he’s a big part of our team and that’s what we gotta do.”
Blues fans might remember Binnington getting into it with a couple of Dallas Stars during the playoff series between the teams last spring. Schenn smiled and shrugged off the latest Binnington hijinks, saying: “Whatever gets him going. He even shot for an empty net tonight. So let him have it. . . .Not a whole lot of power behind that (shot) but I’m sure he’ll keep practicing on it.”
Yes, Binnington did try for an empty-net goal late in the contest — his “shot” barely made it to center ice. Binnington already has an assist this season, so why not go for a goal?
Schenn was able to successfully execute an empty-netter with 59 seconds left for the Blues’ final goal. Earlier in the period, he scored the Blues’ third power play goal of the night, something they hadn’t done since a 5-4 victory last March 6 in Anaheim.
Prior to Schenn’s goal, Alex Pietrangelo scored his fourth goal of the season — on the Clifford penalty in the second period — to tie the game at 2-2. And Thomas, who thought he had a goal earlier in the period that was wiped out by a quick review, got one that counted 1 minute 40 seconds after Pietrangelo’s score to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead.
“I’ve been trying to get one for the last couple games,” Thomas said. “It’s been so close. After the first one got called off, that kind of (stunk). Yeah, nice to get another one.”
One that counted.