|STL Leads Series 2 - 1|
LOS ANGELES -- There's no way the St. Louis Blues can say they didn't have their chances. The door was ajar all night, but they couldn't completely pry it open.
Four power plays. A boatload of near-misses.
The Los Angeles Kings weathered through, couldn't convert much themselves but avoided falling into an almost insurmountable hole with a 1-0 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series on Saturday night.
"It's no secret not many teams have come back from 3-0 deficits," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "That's plain and simple. That's cut and dry. Obviously it's the first of four, but this is a game that we needed to have -- and Game 4 is going to be the same. We don't want to be going back there down 3-1. We want to put a little bit of pressure on them, win a game, see what happens."
Williams made a terrific diving poke check late in the game that might have saved the win. The effort was indicative of a series in which neither offense has had much space to work with. Seven goals have been scored in the three games.
Asked how nice it was to see Voynov score, Williams induced laughs when he said, "It's good to see anybody get one at this point."
St. Louis was going for its first 3-0 series lead since the 2001 conference semifinals after winning a pair of 2-1 victories at Scottrade Center. But it came up empty on L.A.'s third too many men penalty of this series in the third period to extend its power play slump to 0 for 12.
"We had our opportunities," forward Alexander Steen said. "The power play, we had some 5-on-5 chances … we've got to bury them. We've got to start making them pay for their mistakes. Today we didn't.
"We've just got to be a little bit more determined. We've got to find a way to score. Tonight, I didn't think it was Quick. I thought it was us. I thought we had our chances and we've got to start putting them away."
St. Louis might have kicked itself for going into the second intermission down 1-0. Andy McDonald fanned from the slot and Steen missed a gaping right side of the net. St. Louis also couldn't take advantage of a glaring Kings turnover, nor could the Blues capitalize on Colin Fraser's high-sticking penalty 175 feet from his own net.
L.A. was outshot 14-11 in the second period, but scored what proved to be the game's only goal when Voynov emerged from a netfront scramble to finally give L.A. a genuine even-strength goal. Brian Elliott couldn't cover the puck in a maze of bodies and it squirted free to Voynov, who tucked a shot through traffic and inside the left post at 4:56 for his second career postseason goal.
"I had it for a bit and they didn't blow the whistle," Elliott said. "It was just a scramble. [I] have to watch it on tape. It's just one of those plays that's just a battle at the net and lot of those are going to happen. Unfortunately we didn't come up with that one."
Elliott made 20 saves and was stellar despite allowing the game's lone goal. He got a piece of an all-alone Drew Doughty in the right slot in the first period and stopped Dwight King on a third-period shorthanded breakaway. Quick denied David Backes twice, on a partial breakaway in the first and on a leg pad save during the Blues' first power play.
Until Voynov's goal, the Kings' two goals in the series came with a sixth attacker in the final minute of Game 1 and during a two-man advantage in Game 2.
"It's really hard to win a game 1-0 and we found a way to do it tonight," L.A. captain Dustin Brown said. "This is a huge win. We cut [the Blues' lead in the series] in half. Now we've got to regroup and get ready for Game . But we're going to want to score more than goal in this series if we want to be successful. We've got to figure it out."
In their first Stanley Cup Playoff game at home since they lifted the Cup last June, the Kings won their eighth straight in L.A. and dealt the Blues their sixth consecutive loss at Staples Center.
While there was only one goal in 60 minutes, there was plenty of contact. The teams combined for 92 hits, including 53 by the Kings. L.A. centermen were dominated in the faceoff circle the first two games but were 28-29 in Game 3.
"There's a lot of little battles going on that only the players appreciate," coach Darryl Sutter said. "It's pretty much what everybody said at the outset -- not much for goals and you can't get frustrated by it. Skill players, top guys, can't get frustrated. Instead of playing their own individual game or turnover … that's basically how we're trying to play."
Sutter played with seven defensemen as Alec Martinez saw his first game action since April 2. Sutter said he wanted more energy and to "try and get a little bit more out of everybody." He also scratched Jordan Nolan and rotated different wings on the fourth line.
Quick recorded his club-record fifth career playoff shutout. He helped kill a two-man advantage in the third. Quick has stopped 93 of 97 shots in the series.
"I thought we did a great job as far as work aspect goes," Quick said. "There's definitely things we need to clean up to get better at, and I think the PK really got us the win there."
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock lamented the missed opportunities but looked ahead.
"We knew what we were in for," Hitchcock said. "I'm sure they felt like they deserved Game 2, and we though we deserved Game 3. So the series is at where it's at … it is a hell of a battle, and it won't be any different on Monday."
|Back to top ↑|