Western Conference Semifinals
Kings 3, St. Louis Blues 1
Eight keys to the game:
THE FACTS: Home ice doesn’t belong to the St. Louis Blues any longer, just as it was stolen from the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs. The Kings took care of that Saturday night at Scottrade Center in St. Louis behind two rare playoff goals by the defense, a bank-shot empty-netter by Dustin Penner in the closing seconds and another stellar performance by goalie Jonathan Quick.
THE STAT: The Kings have won six consecutive playoff games on the road and are 8-2 away from Staples Center over the past three postseasons. This is the fourth consecutive playoff series in which they've taken away home-ice advantage in the first two games.
TURNING POINT: With 1 minute, 13 seconds remaining in the second period and the score tied at 1, Kings rookie winger Dwight King checked St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo in the back, and Pietrangelo went forehead-first into the boards behind the Blues' net. Pietrangelo appeared to be bleeding, but King was given only a two-minute boarding penalty, rather than a five-minute major and game misconduct. On the ensuing faceoff, St. Louis forward David Backes won the draw, but his pass backward went off his skate, just enough to throw off defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. That allowed Kings forward Dustin Brown to take off a stride ahead of Shattenkirk. Brown’s shot attempt was stopped by goalie Brian Elliott, but Brown appeared to clip Elliott’s right pad as he skated by, knocking the netminder off balance while the puck lay in the crease. Kings defenseman Matt Greene came up from behind the play with no one defending him and shoved the puck past Elliott before he could recover for a 2-1 lead. It was Greene's first career playoff goal in his 36th game. The goal also was just the second short-handed goal by a Kings defenseman in franchise history. The other belonged to Rob Blake in 1993. To make matters worse, Pietrangelo, the team’s best defenseman and leader in ice time during the regular season and playoffs, did not return to the game.
HOT: Quick turned aside 28 shots for his fifth playoff victory in six games this postseason. No save was better than the three straight he kicked aside off the stick of Blues forward Andy McDonald when the game was still scoreless in the opening minute. Quick has allowed just nine goals in the six playoff games and has stopped 192 of 201 shots for a lofty save percentage of .955.
NOT: The Kings scored their third short-handed goal of the postseason, the same number they’ve produced on the power play. They went 0-for-5 in Game 1 against the Blues, including one stretch during the second half of the game in which they had the man advantage for eight minutes out of 8:47. They now are 3-for-31 on the power play during their playoff run. As for the Blues, Shattenkirk had a night to forget. Not only was he burned on the Greene short-hander, but he committed a delay of game penalty in the third period, just after the Blues had killed a four-minute power play. He was on the ice for all three goals, resulting in a minus-3 rating.
GOOD MOVE: Penner was given a promotion from the third to the second line late in Game 5 (the series-clinching victory) against the Canucks, and coach Darryl Sutter stayed with that lineup against the Blues. Penner obliged by setting up the first goal, holding the puck as he weaved below the goal line and then passing out front to rookie defenseman Slava Voynov, who hit the open side for his first career playoff goal and the first postseason goal by a first-year Kings defenseman since Alexei Zhitnik in 1993. Penner’s bank-shot empty-netter looked straight out of a billiards match, as he shot the puck from deep in his own end, off the wall near the red line and straight into the middle of the net with 14 seconds left in the game.
BAD MOVE: About two minutes before Greene’s goal, the Blues had a golden opportunity to break the 1-all tie when David Perron drove at the Kings' net. As he made his move, the puck went off the shin of L.A. defenseman Drew Doughty and was left in the slot with Quick out of position as he followed Perron across the crease. Scott Nichol skated in all alone but tried to be too fine with his shot and sent the puck just wide of the open side of the net.
NOTABLE: For the third consecutive year, the goalies with the top two goals-against averages in the regular season went head to head in the playoffs. ... The Kings had 44 goals by their defensemen during the regular season, the most by any team in the NHL except the Nashville Predators. ... When the Blues scored first during the regular season, they finished 34-8-3 for the sixth-best winning percentage in the NHL. The Kings were 9-23-7 when allowing the first goal, the third-worst winning percentage. ... St. Louis tied the Detroit Red Wings for the best home record during the regular season.
UP NEXT: Game 2, Monday in St. Louis, 6 p.m. PT.