LOS ANGELES – To get back into the series against the St. Louis Blues, the Los Angeles Kings would have to win game three as the odds of surviving a three games to none deficit have historically proven insurmountable. With backs against the wall, Jonathan Quick registered the shutout and brought the Kings back into the series with a 1-0 victory in game three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Saturday night.
Heavy hitting and even trade of shots from both teams dictated the opening period. Neither team was providing the other with much room to maneuver keeping play tight and scoring chances at a minimum. Both goaltenders, Elliott for St. Louis and Quick for Los Angeles, were steady and sharp.
Los Angeles had the first power play, but St. Louis had the best scoring chance with David Perron off for high-sticking eleven minutes into the period. Backes intercepted a pass breaking in alone on Quick who flashed a right pad deflecting the puck into the corner and out of trouble.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty had several chances late, but could not solve Elliott. Los Angeles seemed to believe shooting high on the Blues netminder was the best way to solve him, but Elliott remained strong taking away all chances from the defending champions.
The period ended with Los Angeles taking the edge in shots 8-6 in the scoreless period.
To open the second period, St. Louis failed to convert on a power play with Kings’ defenseman Alex Martinez was sent off for hooking David Perron. Several minutes after the penalty expired, though, Los Angeles netted the game’s first goal.
After a vicious scramble in front of the Blues goal, Kings’ defenseman Slave Voynov fired a wrist shot from ten feet out that Elliott never saw. It was just what the Kings needed to get a confidence boost and get the home crowd engaged. Still, it seemed like the Kings marker made the Blues more determined.
Several minutes after the Kings scored, the Blues had their own chance. With Chris Stewart streaking down the right side, he sent a bullet that Quick kicked out with his right pad, but right onto the stick of Andy McDonald who fired wide of the open net.
A few minutes later, Patrik Berglund intercepted a pass from Kings’ defenseman who was behind the goal, but Quick answered leaving the Blues frustrated, but determined. St. Louis was leading in shots 9-4 at the midway point of the period.
With just over seven minutes to play in the period, Kings’ defenseman Colin Fraser was sent off for high-sticking Blues’ defenseman Roman Polak. The ensuing power play led to a glorious scoring chance for Andy McDonald who missed a wide open net just thirty seconds into the man advantage.
The Blues ended the period leading in shots 14-11 in the second and 20-19 for the game, but trailing the Kings 1-0 on the scoreboard.
Just a minute into the third period, Blues’ forward Patrik Berglund caught Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty with a high stick sending Los Angeles onto the power play. The Kings mounted a furious attack, but Elliott remained steady.
The Kings were then helped by a delay of game call issued to T.J. Oshie for flipping the puck over the glass. The puck actually hit glass on the way out, but all four officials ruled it did not and the Kings went on a two-man advantage. This was one of many foolish calls by the officials against St. Louis during the game.
With about thirteen and half minutes remaining, Blues’ defenseman David Perron was checked into Quick by Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty. The incident drew coincidental minors, but then Doughty gained the extra minor sending the Blues on the power play.
With eleven minutes left in the game, a drive from Blues’ backliner Jay Bouwmeester toward the Kings goal trickled wide of the net to Blues’ forward David Backes who fanned on the shot in the open side.
The Kings took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty late in the period giving the Blues a golden opportunity to tie up the game. Quick remained solid and the Kings defense never allowed St. Louis any opportunities to muster a scoring chance. The Blues were 1 of 12 in the series at this point.
Toward the end of the power play, Dwight Kings who had been serving the minor penalty was fed a pass from inside the Los Angeles zone sending him on a breakaway. As he accepted the pass in full stride, he broke in alone on Elliott and fired high glove side. Elliott made a miraculous save keeping the Blues in the game.
St. Louis continued to press in the final minutes encountering odd-man rushes and point blank shooting attempts. Quick saved them all leaving the Blues stymied and hoping the Kings’ goaltender might consider playing the puck behind the net before the end of regulation time just as he did in game one when St. Louis won the game in overtime.
But it would not be as the Kings kept St. Louis shooters at bay preserving the victory. While St. Louis held the edge in shots 30-21, Los Angeles led in the hit column 46-37. As in the first two games of the series, either team could have won this evenly played game.
Game four is set for Monday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The puck drops at 10:00 PM Eastern time.