Western Quarter Final: Game 1: Kings Lose 2-1(OT), STL leads series 1-0
ST. LOUIS – After being outplayed for most of the game, the Los Angeles Kings tied the game in the final minute of regulation only to lose in overtime in the most unlucky of circumstances. Now, the Kings must do something they haven’t done at all last postseason: enter a game trailing a series.
Los Angeles may have swept the St. Louis Blues in four-straight last spring but that was last year. Much of the media may not give the Kings the respect they deserve but the teams in the Western Conference certainly do and the Blues are no exception. On Tuesday night, the Blues came out swinging against the reigning champs and despite outshooting them 14-5 in the first period, only entered the intermission with a 1-0 lead.
Despite a chance here and there, the Blues continued their dominance in the second period adding 10 more shots but still failing to increase their lead. Like it was last postseason, Jonathan Quick was quickly becoming the Achilles’ heel for St. Louis. Of course, the Kings’ offense (and even some of their defenseman) were having off-nights as they just could not find a way to help their netminder out. If it weren’t for Quick’s efforts, Game 1 could have easily been a 5- or 6-0 Blues romp.
In the third, St. Louis remained relentless as they peppered Quick with 12 shots but again, no results. Despite managing just six shots in the third, the Kings were able to capitalize in the final minute. With Quick on the bench for the extra skater, Justin Williams wristed a shot over Brian Elliott that tied the game, sending it into overtime.
In the extra frame, the Kings started showing of signs of life outshooting the Blues 10-7 and even had a four-minute man-advantage after a Kevin Shattenkirk high-stick. The tide had turned – or so we thought.
Less than a minute after going on the power play, Jonathan Quick, not being notorious for his exceptional stickhandling, went behind the net to play the puck when he lost to Alex Steen who, in turn, wrapped around the net and tucked it home to win Game 1 for the Blues. The goal was Steen’s second of the night and just when it looked like the Kings had turned a corner, luck went against them and cost them the game.
While it was easy (and justified) to be upset with Quick over his overtime gaffe, he was hands-down the Kings’ best player on Tuesday night. The Blues came out swinging and Quick stood tall making 41 saves, looking in the same type of form we saw him in just one year earlier. As unacceptable as Quick’s costly mistake was, some of the blame has to go to the defensemen who weren’t closer to the net knowing full-well of their netminder’s skills (or lack thereof) when stickhandling the puck.
Nevertheless, a loss is a loss and the Kings will need to rebound in a big way should they hope to return to Los Angeles with a series split. Besides being significantly outplayed, the Kings took some undisciplined penalties which included a too many men call that cost them a goal (courtesy of OT hero Alex Steen) in the early going.
While Jonathan Quick needs another solid performance in Game 2, the Kings also need more from their defensemen and forwards and could also benefit from throwing their bodies around as the Blues, led by Ryan Reaves, dominated Game 1 in the physical side of things.
It’s just one game but the Los Angeles Kings know that this is a Blues team not to be taken lightly – and there’s no better time to turn the tide than in Game 2, which will be playing at Scottrade Center on Thursday night.