Western Quarter Final, Game 5: Kings Win 4-3, LA leads series 3-2
ST. LOUIS – Entering Game 5, something had to give. Either the Los Angeles Kings’ winning would be snapped or the unbeaten streak of the home team in the series would come to an end. When it was all said and done, the Kings were victorious in enemy territory thanks to an exciting finish capped by a smooth overtime-winner against the St. Louis Blues scored by sophomore defenseman Slava Voynov.
While I continue to be indebted to Rachel Levyfor letting me use her bad (but brilliant) puns for my headlines, I can’t help but be excited at thought of the Los Angeles Kings looking like the reigning champions they are.
Despite losing both Games 3 and 4 in Southern California, the Blues weren’t the least but deterred from the opening faceoff where they started the contest outshooting the visitors 9-3. Unfortunately for the Blues, the further the playoffs have gone on, the better Jonathan Quick has been. Granted, Los Angeles’s postseason is only five games old but nonetheless, the reigning Conn Smythe winner is showing everyone why he is just that having made 34 saves on Wednesday night.
After a scoreless first period, the Kings wasted no time giving their netminder the support he needed as Jeff Carter opened the scoring just 14 seconds into the second period. St. Louis, however, was able to answer as Alex Steen was able to solve Quick, potting his third of the postseason at the 6:46 mark of the middle frame to tie the game up. Despite outshooting the Kings 23-15 through the first 40 minutes, though, the Blues weren’t able to take the lead.
While Game 5 was another low-scoring affair, the physicality remained at a torrid pace making this arguably the most underrated series of 2013 thus far.
After Barret Jackman was called for tripping in the final five seconds of the second, the Kings had the majority of a power play to work with entering the third and they weren’t content to wait around before taking advantage.
Just 54 seconds into the frame, Jeff Carter potted his second of the night past Brian Elliott to regain the King lead. Despite the go-ahead goal, though, the Blues continued to pour it on in the third outshooting the Kings 9-3, desperate to tie. But despite being outshot, the Kings’ defensive unit pulled together in the late stages of regulation, barely letting the Blues cross center ice much less generate a half-quality scoring chance.
But with Elliott on the bench for the extra attacker in the final minute, the Blues won a critical faceoff in the Los Angeles zone when the puck came back to defenseman Alex Pietrangelo who took advantage of a screened Jonathan Quick and wristed a shot right into the net to tie the game and send Scottrade Center into a frenzy.
Despite the late goal, however, I was surprisingly unfazed. While it usually is deflating to have a last-minute goal surrendered, I had a good feeling that the silver-and-black would rebound despite the setback. Lo and behold, I was right as in overtime, the Kings broke out with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams streaking in the St. Louis zone. With the two forwards pressing, a trailing Slava Voynov entered the zone, took the textbook feed from Kopitar and ended the game putting the puck past Elliott to send the Kings back home with a chance to end the series on Friday night.
The first three games lacked offense but still had plenty of physicality, the fourth game had plenty of offense and physicality while Game 5 had just about everything and while both teams played great, it was the Kings who prevailed as they are now determined to advance to the next round in front of their home fans at Staples Center.
Everyone donning silver-and-black is certainly finding the incentive to step up their collective game and they could have picked a more appropriate time to do so.