Western Quarter Final: Game 2: Kings Lose 2-1, STL leads series 2-0
ST. LOUIS – They got off to a much better start in Game 2 but the end was the same as the Los Angeles Kings drop both games in St. Louis and now head home trailing the Blues 2-0 in their Western Quarter Finalmatchup.
To the Kings’ credit, they responded to their lackluster performance in Game 1 by coming strong out of the gate in Game 2. En route to outshooting the Blues 12-7 in the opening frame, the Kings drew first blood as captain Dustin Brown tipped in his first of the postseason on the power play at 9:55 of the first. While there wasn’t any other scoring for the remainder of the first and the second, the Kings had taken control of the game’s tempo.
After outshooting St. Louis 11-8 in the middle frame, the Kings needed to maintain their work ethic if they wanted to split the series. In the third, though, remnants of the opening game returned as it was the Blues who took control of the game.
While they only outshot the Kings by a margin of 10-6 in the third, the Blues looked to have completely taken over the tempo of the game. Like in Game 1, Los Angeles’ offense couldn’t generate much and their defense dropped a step as St. Louis put Jonathan Quick to work and their work paid off as Patrick Berglund tapped in his first of the postseason 3:44 into the frame to tie the game.
Momentum was high for the home side as they continued to press but Jonathan Quick, to his credit, stood tall including bailing out rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin who made a near-costly turnover in his own zone with just minutes remaining.
The Kings’ luck, however, faded as defenseman Barret Jackman took a drop pass from Chris Stewart in the final minute and wristed a shot glove-side past Jonathan Quick and in. With the game appeared to be heading into overtime, Jackman notched the winner with just 51 seconds remaining.
So, despite having a stellar 19-1-2 record this season when leading after two periods, the Los Angeles Kings could not hold on and now instead of returning home with a split, they must dig themselves out a 2-0 hole.
Despite struggling to find the back of the net, credit deserves to be distributed elsewhere and I’d certainly be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the sound netminding of Brian Elliott who has certainly redeemed himself from his subpar numbers against Los Angeles over the past year. In Game 2, Elliott turned away 28 shots and frustrated the Kings en route to his team’s win.
There were some positives to come from Game 2. For instance, the Kings’ performance in the first 40 minutes was much better than their effort in Game 1. With that said, they needed a full 60-minute effort and they didn’t get it. Their lack of discipline was also an issue although the Kings weren’t penalized during the latter half of the contest.
It’s back to the drawing board for the Kings as they host the Blues on Saturday night in what will be, for all intents and purposes, a must-win game.