ST LOUIS, Mo – A year after seeing their magnificent season of 2012 evaporate in a four-game sweep by Los Angeles, St. Louis entered the 2013 postseason with the pain of the shocking loss still fresh in their mind. The Blues channeled the heartbreak with Thomas Steen scoring a shorthanded goal in overtime, his second tally of the game, giving St. Louis a 2-1 overtime victory in game one of the Western Conference quarterfinals at the Scottrade Center Tuesday night.
Right from the drop of the puck, St. Louis established a physical presence, a much different posture than what was exhibit in their last postseason tilt with Los Angeles. By stepping up in the neutral zone and taking away the passing lanes, the Blues created problems for the Kings. The difficult playing style dictated by the Blues caused Los Angeles to be whistled for a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty midway through the period.
In the ensuing power play, it took St. Louis just 42 seconds to light their side of the scoreboard. The scoring play came when Kevin Shattenkirk fire a blast from the right point which was kicked out by the right pad of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. The rebound came to Thomas Steen who made no mistake firing the puck past the outstretched toe of Quick giving St. Louis the first marker.
The Kings continued to lose composure as the period wore on being outhit and beaten to most loose pucks throughout the ice. The play of Jonathan Quick kept the Kings close and prevented the period from getting out of control. St. Louis’ fourth line of Adam Cracknell, Chris Porter and Ryan Reaves kept the Kings defenseman constantly looking over their shoulder with heavy hits behind their blue line and little room to advance the play ouot of their own zone.
At the end of the period, the Kings saw their best chance ring off the right post during a frantic scramble in front of Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. On the play, Jeff Carter’s backhand deflected off Elliott’s catching glove and off the post as time expired. It was the sixth shot on goal by the Kings, a number dwarfed by the 14 shots St. Louis delivered to Quick.
The second period opened with Los Angeles having more room to skate with St. Louis lessening the pressure exhibited in the first twenty minutes. Still, St. Louis’ best chance occurred when Thomas Steen centered a pass from behind the net to a speeding Jaden Schwartz who fired a shot on net that Quick confidently turned aside.
Los Angeles continued to show frustration taking penalties in the closing minutes of the second period. Despite infractions to Robyn Regehr for hooking and Dustin Brown for tripping, St. Louis failed to convert and the second period ended with the Blues still leading 1-0. St. Louis widened their lead in shots to 24-13.
The third period began with Los Angeles gaining a little more momentum with St. Louis playing an undisciplined style last seen during the 2012 playoffs when the Kings swept the Blues. Continued solid play by both goaltenders kept the game tight. If it had not been for Quick, the Kings would have been out of the game long before the third period.
With continued pressure, Los Angeles attacked the St. Louis goal with Quick off for an extra attacker, Kings right wing Justin Williams fired a wrist shot from the right face-off dot which snuck over Elliott’s shoulder and under the crossbar with just 31 seconds left tying the game. Elliott seemed further back in his crease allowing just enough room for the puck to enter the net. This was just what the Kings needed as they had been hanging on all game. St. Louis led in shots at end of regulation 36-19.
Overtime began with Los Angeles recharged from the late tally and play continued with sustained pressure from the defending champions. The Blues were playing back on their heels. Having remembered that throwing anything at the goal might end in a game-winning shot, Los Angeles continued to bombard the St. Louis net with shots from through the zone. Elliott stood tall and kept the Blues in the game turning aside very attempt coming his way.
With just over seven minutes left in overtime, St. Louis fortunes took a turn for the worse. While battling Los Angeles’ Dustin Penner for the puck behind the Blues’ goal, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk’s stick came up striking the Kings forward cutting him on the chin. Los Angeles would go on a four-minute power play.
In the ensuing face-off, the Blues cleared the puck in the Los Angeles zone where Quick stopped the puck behind the net. While attempting to clear, Quick misplayed the puck allowing a surging Thomas Steen to take control of the puck and fire it into the open net to secure the victory and series lead. It was Steen’s second goal of the night and sent a sleepy, but loyal crowd into a wild frenzy.
Although the Kings edged the Blues in shots 10-6 in the overtime period, St. Louis outshot the Los Angeles 42-29. Quick was the difference in what easily could have been a lopsided win. The Blues victory broke an eight-game losing streak to Los Angeles going back to February 3, 2012. Game two is set for Thursday night at 9:30 ET at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
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