Daily News Kings go to St. Louis for first of three games in four nights

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The Kings will pass under the Arch in St. Louis, their gateway to three games in four nights against the Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars on a rapid-fire road trip.

This condensed journey will pit them against a team with dimming playoff hopes, another that long since descended into the draft lottery abyss and one of the most formidable rosters in the league on the second night of a back-to-back set with travel.

During their five-game homestand (3-1-1), the Kings built on a 5-1 triumph over the division-leading Canucks in Vancouver. While they struggled at times against the lowly Ottawa Senators in an overtime victory and for much of the match against the Central Division-leading Stars in a lopsided loss, the Kings mostly checked effectively in critical matches, interim coach Jim Hiller said.

“The defensive game that we played on the road that we liked, we brought it home, and we’re pretty consistent playing that, that’s what we like,” Hiller said. “Those are playoff-type games when they’re tight, so we’d like to re-establish that [on the road trip].”

Most recently, the Kings shut out a bubble team but one that entered the contest on a six-game tear, the New York Islanders. Defenseman Mikey Anderson credited the forwards’ tenacity on the forecheck for setting the tone for the effort, and also the Kings’ NHL-best penalty kill. They are one of just five teams with a PK percentage above 85, and the only one above 86.

“We’ve got a good thing going with it and guys feel good about it, but it’s something we’ve got to keep working at, keep getting better, because down the stretch that’s more and more important,” Anderson said.

In all, the Kings killed 16 of 18 penalties on the homestand. They killed four of five against Dallas and all five against New York, including two late in the game as they sought to protect a two-goal lead. Those 18 penalties were the second most in the NHL across the dates that comprised the homestand, with only the Arizona Coyotes facing more shorthanded situations.

“It’s too many, that’s the problem with it, but the guys are doing a terrific job,” Hiller said. “It really grinds you down when you take that many. Those are guys who [also] play big minutes five-on-five and everything else.”

Awaiting the Kings are the Blues, who are led by a wide margin in scoring by Robert Thomas. Like the Kings, they made no deals whatsoever at the trade deadline, opting to hang on to left wing Pavel Buchnevich in the penultimate season of his contract. The Blues join the Minnesota Wild among teams chasing the second wild-card berth, with both teams entering Tuesday’s schedule facing a somewhat daunting six-point deficit.

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After the deadline, Rob Blake indicated that injured winger Viktor Arvidsson, who has played just three games and 17 seconds of a fourth this season as a result of back surgery and a subsequent non-contact injury, would be eligible to return during this trip and might rejoin the team. Hiller provided an update Monday that was less encouraging.

“He could travel, I guess, but it would be better for him to stay back and skate here,” Hiller said. “He’ll get better ice sessions. We play three in four, not a great practice setup. He could travel, but he’ll stay here and he’ll keep skating.”

KINGS AT BLUES​


When: Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.

Where: Enterprise Center, St. Louis

TV: Bally Sports West, TNT, Max

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