(Sports Network) - The new year hasn't been kind to either the Los Angeles Kings or St. Louis Blues, but one of those clubs will pick up a much-needed victory tonight in a meeting at the Staples Center.The Blues closed out the month of December with five straight victories, but have gone 0-4-1 since for their third five-game slide of the season. St. Louis is on the verge of dropping six in a row for the first time since a seven-game rut from Dec. 26-Jan. 7 of last season.
The Kings, meanwhile, began a season-long eight-game homestand on Dec. 30 and are just 1-5-0 so far on the residency. They were 13-2-1 at the Staples Center prior to this current stretch.Los Angeles halted a five-game skid with Saturday's victory over Columbus, but fell right back into the loss column with a 3-2 setback to Toronto on Monday.Wayne Simmonds and Michal Handzus both scored and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves. Los Angeles had a 6-on-4 advantage for the game's final 1:42, but couldn't net the equalizer.
"We played desperate the last nine minutes of the game trying to get back in it, but it's hard to. We've got to play a full 60 [minutes], and like I said, we started good and then we get away from things that make us successful," Kings forward Dustin Brown said. Los Angeles will end its homestand on Saturday versus the Oilers and will likely stick with Quick tonight. The 24-year-old is just 1-4-1 with a 3.27 goals-against average in his career versus the Blues.
St. Louis continues a tour of California one night after dropping a 7-4 decision in Anaheim. The Blues trailed 3-0 by the end of the first period and could not overcome a hat trick and four points by the Ducks' Bobby Ryan.David Backes scored a pair of goals in the second period, Ryan Reaves netted the first of his career and Brad Boyes also scored in the setback. Ty Conklin got the start over No. 1 Jaroslav Halak, his first since Dec. 28, and gave up all seven goals on 24 shots faced.
"You look at the start they got off to -- they got a pretty good jump on us," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We got ourselves back in the game, but we made some mental mistakes early that cost us. ... It's one thing to not have your legs going early, but the mental preparation has to be better." St. Louis, which will play in San Jose on Saturday, should give Halak the start tonight and he has won both of his previous career meetings with the Kings, halting 58-of-62 shots faced.
Halak will be looking to continue the Blues' winning streak over the Kings to five games, a run the club extended on Dec. 16 with a 6-4 home win. Backes and Vladimir Sobotka both had a goal and two assists in the win, while Conklin made 25 saves. Quick made 25 saves and both Brown and Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who have lost two straight at home to the Blues.
For information on tonight's game, be sure to read Jewels From The Crown.