Los Angeles Hockey: Kevin Shattenkirk

Kings: First-period barrage lifts L.A. to 2-0 series lead

April, 30, 2012
Western Conference Semifinals

Game 2

Kings 5, St. Louis Blues 2

(Kings lead the series, 2-0)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: All the unlucky bounces, miss-timed centering passes and clanks off the goal post during the first two-thirds of the season began to tilt L.A.'s way in late February. They never caught as many breaks as they did Monday night in St. Louis, however, and even managed to create a few of their own, leading to their second straight playoff victory at Scottrade Center and their seventh consecutive postseason road victory overall.

THE STAT: The Kings scored four goals in the opening period to put the Blues in a deep 4-0 hole. They had not produced a four-goal period in the postseason since 1993, when they scored five in the third period against the Vancouver Canucks. St. Louis, meanwhile, had not allowed four playoff goals in a period since 1996.

TURNING POINT: It didn’t take long. On the game’s first shift, Kings left wing Dustin Penner brought the puck down the left side and took a shot from the faceoff circle that sailed wide. Mike Richards blasted St. Louis center T.J. Oshie behind the net, and the puck squirted out to the right-wing boards. Penner then planted Kevin Shattenkirk into the glass and retrieved the puck. Penner managed to keep his body between Shattenkirk and the rubber as he skated toward the net along the icing line. He tried to shove the puck in the short side but it rebounded out to Richards, who scored from the slot for a 1-0 lead 31 seconds into the game. That seemed to break the seal, as the Kings scored three more unanswered goals in the opening period.

HOT: The Kings took a 2-0 lead on their second shorthanded goal of this series and fourth of the playoffs. Once again, Dustin Brown was in the middle of the play. Brown was pressuring Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo in the St. Louis zone. Colaiacovo tried to clear the puck, but it appeared to hit the shaft of Brown’s stick and kick sideways. Brown collected the puck, paused as Anze Kopitar skated into the center of the ice and put the pass on his stick. Kopitar did the rest, putting a move on goalie Brian Elliott to get him to sprawl and then sliding a shot along the goal line. The puck hit Elliott’s left skate and caromed into the net with 5:44 remaining in the first period. Brown has two shorthanded goals and two assists in these playoffs, the most points since Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings also had four in 2008. Oh, and the Kings proceeded to kill the penalty for their 20th straight kill against St. Louis this season and are 26-for-26 overall against the Blues' power play this season.

NOT: Elliott can’t be completely blamed for the defensive meltdown, though he hardly looks like the goalie who led the league in save percentage during the regular season. No, the players in front of him probably deserve just as much credit for this troubling start. After a dismal Game 1 by Shattenkirk, he was on the ice for two of the first four goals by the Kings. He also committed a roughing penalty on Richards seven minutes into the game, keeping the Blues on their heels after they had fallen behind, 1-0. Barret Jackman also contributed a pair of roughing penalties and a minus-3 rating.

GOOD MOVE: The Blues played without their top defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo, who suffered an undisclosed injury when he was nudged into the boards by Kings rookie forward Dwight King in Game 1. B.J. Crombeen tried to incite King into fighting him in the final seconds of Game 1, but King didn’t oblige. King didn’t hesitate four minutes into Game 2, however, as Crombeen challenged him prior to a faceoff. King actually landed a few more blows than Crombeen and finished on top of him when both tumbled to the ice. Whether a veteran teammate on the Kings grabbed the rookie winger by the collar and reminded him to stand up for himself at some point is unknown, but the fact that King didn’t shy away from Crombeen’s second invitation should have drawn some inspiration on the bench. If the three goals the Kings scored during the remainder of the period was any indication, King won the momentum battle too.

BAD MOVE: It was probably unavoidable, given the large early deficit, but the Kings got caught up in the antics by St. Louis as the game worn on, creating a mule trail to the penalty box. The worst decision was Penner’s retaliation after taking a hard check from Oshie with about 12 minutes left in the game. Richards was in the process of fighting Oshie as a response to the hit, when Penner jumped into fray and put David Perron in a headlock. Good thing for the Kings it gave them another chance to score a shorthanded goal.

NOTABLE: Justin Williams and Jeff Carter scored their first goals of the playoffs, with Carter’s goal ending a 10-game playoff drought ... When on the penalty kill this postseason, the Kings have outscored their opponent, 4-3 ... The Blues are 1-16 in postseason history when falling behind 0-2. Their last comeback was in 1972.

UP NEXT: Game 3, Thursday at Staples Center, 7 p.m.

Kings: Jonathan Quick, Dustin Penner lead way in Game 1 victory

April, 28, 2012

Western Conference Semifinals

Game 1

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.

Kings: Looking to rebound in St. Louis

November, 22, 2011
Kings (10-7-3, 23 points) vs. St. Louis Blues (10-7-2, 22 points) at Scottrade Center, 4:30 p.m. (PT)

Five storylines to track:

1. Rule or exception? – Kings coach Terry Murray is hoping his team’s performance Saturday against visiting Detroit was just a hiccup and not a step back in progression. The Kings had won three straight heading into the game and seemed to have ironed out a few kinks, but then had 15 giveaways, many in the neutral zone, in the 4-1 loss to the Red Wings. They also went without a power-play goal for the first time in seven games and were stumped in 5-on-5 play as well.

2. Two for two – The Kings played one of their best games of the season against St. Louis in their home opener last month. Simon Gagne had two goals and an assist and Jonathan Quick stopped 27 shots for the first of his franchise-record three consecutive shutouts. The Kings haven’t been as sharp in St. Louis, losing their last three games at Scottrade Center. They last won there Oct. 10, 2009, the same night the Dodgers eliminated host St. Louis from the National League Championship Series.

3. More Slava – Before the Kings flew to St. Louis on Monday afternoon, Murray announced that second-year defenseman Alec Martinez would not play in St. Louis or Wednesday in Dallas because of a shoulder injury suffered 10 days earlier against visiting Minnesota. The Kings can afford to let Martinez take his time with his recovery because rookie Slava Voynov is more than holding his own. In eight games over two different stints with the Kings this season, he has five points and a plus-2 rating. Martinez has two points and a minus-2 rating in 16 games.

4. New man in town – There have been a few changes since the Kings last met the Blues, most noticeably a new coach, Ken Hitchcock, who took over for Davis Payne last month after the Blues limped to a 6-7-0 start. Under their new leader, the Blues have gone 4-0-2 and have allowed just six goals in regulation. Hitchcock and Murray have coached together in the past and both demand similar styles of play. Don’t expect the Kings to put another five goals on the board, but three should be enough to win.

5. Power struggle – St. Louis has been absolutely abysmal on the power play. The Blues have scored just six man-advantage goals in 59 opportunities, a success rate of only 10.2 percent. Only one team in the last 11 seasons has finished under 11 percent. The top four point producers for the Blues, Alexander Steen, T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk and David Backes, have not scored a power-play goal, neither has Patrik Berglund, who led the team with eight last season.
After the 1st period:

Kings 1, St. Louis Blues 0

The good: The Kings came out for their home opener in their road jerseys, but their fans knew who to root for during an elaborate pre-game introduction featuring lasers, fancing lighting and loud music. The Kings didn’t waste much time giving their fans something to cheer about once the game starting, taking a 1-0 lead 7 minutes 20 seconds into the first period on a goal by offseason acquisition Simon Gagne. Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell set up the play by making a nice drop pass to Gagne coming across the blue line. Gagne flicked a shot at the goal and it deflected off St. Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and back out to Gaghe, who shot the puck high into the net for his second goal of the season. Jarret Stoll also assisted on the goal for his first point of the season.

The bad: The Kings had eight giveaways in opening period and a couple came right in front of their net. Trevor Lewis committed a pair of giveaways on the only power play of the first period by St. Louis, and Justin Williams made an ill-advised pass from behind the net that was intercepted in the crease by a St. Louis and nearly put into the net. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stepped up and saved Williams on that play.

The in between: The Kings earned went on their own power play in the opening period and never even got set up in the offensive zone, much less got off a shot. No wonder Kings assistant coach Jamie Kompon was booed during pre-game introductions. He’s the guy in charge of special teams. The fans haven’t forgotten that the Kings finished 21st in the league last season.