EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Kings made it back to Southern California with all their limbs intact. They undoubtedly sported a few bumps and bruises when they met for an off-ice workout Tuesday at Toyota Sports Center, but apparently nothing more significant following their 5-2 victory Monday against the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal.
Their on-ice behavior, on the other hand, could probably use a good tape job heading into Game 3.
What began as a remarkable four-goal barrage by the Kings in the opening period deteriorated into a penalty-plagued grudge match, one that the Kings were baited into by the desperate and disgruntled Blues. The Kings were outshot 24-5 after the first period while piling up 42 penalty minutes.
With a 2-0 series lead heading into Game 3 on Thursday at Staples Center, the Kings realize they need to regain their poise if they hope to finish off the second-seeded Blues.
“We had the start we wanted, but you want to stay consistent, obviously, and play like that for 60 minutes,” said Kings center Anze Kopitar, who scored two first-period goals. “There’s room for improvement, and we have to be ready for everything in Game 3.”
Those who played for the Kings last season were cognizant of the four-goal lead they gave away against the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of those Western Conference quarterfinals, turning the series around. That comeback was partly spurred by a needless roughing penalty on Dustin Penner, leading to the second of five goals in the second period.
In a much more reckless way, the Kings gave the Blues six power plays after the opening period of Game 2 but were fortunate St. Louis couldn't capitalize.
“We saw the lapse we had last year in the playoffs against San Jose, when we let them come back and win,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We have to make sure, if we get up to a lead like that again, we aren’t giving them those chances to get back in the game.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he didn’t consider Game 2 to be an overly physical contest, but rather compared it to the penalty-marred first-round series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.
“It was just stuff after the whistle,” he said. “It looks like a lack of discipline.”
Jeff Carter, who ended a 10-game playoff drought with a first-period goal, said the penalties not only gave the Blues a chance to mount a comeback, but took away the flow the Kings had developed in the opening period. In the end, however, the Kings accomplished what they sought, Carter said.
“In the playoffs, you win the game, that’s all that matters,” he said. “We know there are areas we need to improve on, but we’ll do that in the next day and we’ll be ready.”
The Kings plan to go through a full practice Wednesday, then break their routine by having their game-day skate Thursday at Staples Center for the first time this season. Sutter said the noon start time for Game 4 on Sunday in L.A. played a part in that decision.
"That has a big impact," he said. "If we can get settled in and do that once, then do it again."
Getting settled might be the biggest challenge awaiting the Kings.