Sunday, May 6, 2012
Kings: Dustin Brown, Jordan Nolan score for 2-1 lead
By Dan Arritt
Western Conference semifinals
Game 4 (Kings lead the series, 3-0)
After the 1st period:
Kings 2, St. Louis Blues 1
The good: After the Kings couldn’t produce on the game’s first power play, a makeshift line of Dustin Penner, Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan were on the ice. The Blues had possession deep in their zone when a pass behind the net went off the stick of Blues defenseman Roman Polak and came right in front of the net. Penner and Fraser converged and took swipes at the bouncing rubber. Penner got just enough of the puck to get it to rookie Nolan, who planted it in the left side of the net for a 1-0 lead and his first career playoff goal. The Kings continued their trend of answering every St. Louis push with a shove of their own. After the Blues tied the score, Dustin Brown took back the lead with 1:43 left in the period. Brown, who missed two golden scoring opportunities earlier in the period, brought the puck down the left side and fired a shot from the top of the faceoff circle that beat St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott up high on his glove side, continuing a rocky series for the Blues netminder. The Kings out-shot the Blues, 10-4, holding St. Louis to one shot on net the first 11:17.
The bad: St. Louis caught the Kings on a partial shift change after they didn’t get the puck deep enough. Matt Greene recognized the situation and stayed on the ice, but Kevin Shattenkirk still had an angle to shoot from after he brought the puck into the offensive zone. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick left an inch on the far post and, to Shattenkirk’s credit, he managed to bank the puck off the iron and into the net with 8:26 left in the period. Game 4 of the Vancouver series started in a similar way. The Kings had a chance to finish the sweep at home, took a 1-0 first-period lead but failed to capitalize on a number of early scoring opportunities. The Canucks eventually tied the score in the second period and went on to win, 3-1. Brown made sure that scenario didn’t play out again. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who had four turnovers in the first period of Game 3, had two more in the first 20 minutes of Game 4.
The in between: St. Louis forward Chris Stewart is still in the lineup and it’s pretty clear why. Stewart, who knocked Kings forward Kyle Clifford out for two games last season after landing a huge right hand, decided to take on Nolan. Good thing for the rookie, they grabbed with their right hands and threw with their lefts, or Nolan could have ended up in the training room as well.