What a game. The crowd in Staples went from pensive and nervous to rowdy and jubilant in mere moments. The hitting and intensity of this series is starting to wear on STL. They are trying to beat us at our own game and the attrition is beginning to show. First period, STL had 11 shots to LA’s 6. Second period, STL had 6 shots to LA’s 13. Third period, STL had 5 shots to LA’s 10. The momentum is swinging back towards LA and the pressure is back on STL. With a 2 game lead, strategy and game plans tend towards conservative and defensive. With an even playing field and a best of 3 series, more risk/reward weighing has to be done in each situation. With much of the nation betting against LA (including NHL Network, ESPN, etc) the boys are exactly where they are used to being. (Image from The Royal Half’s Twitter account) In NHL history, only 12% of teams have come back from a 0-2 deficit to win a series.
The ball is in your court, St. Louis. The series is now even. You’re tired, and you have to face a heating up reigning champion team. The offense that was stifled due to a combination of you shutting them down and lackluster play is now awake and firing on all cylinders. As Dustin Brown said, the gorilla is off their backs. We now get to play our game on our terms. Will St. Louis be able to rise to the challenge? St. Louis has never won a Stanley Cup finals game. The last time they made it to the finals was in the late 60′s, and they lost in a sweep each of the three times. (Yeah, 0-12 in Stanley Cup finals. Ouch.)
Hey, Playoff Penner. We continue to be in love and our relationship is back on. Thanks for the post season performance in spite of the fact that you probably won’t get re-signed next year. Oh hi there, Kopi! You’ve had everyone worried. While credit will be given largely to Brown for your goal, we’re excited that you are on the point sheet. I never lost faith, I knew you had your reasons. I’m glad those reasons have been swept away and look forward to continued production. Brown! 6 hits delivered tonight. Keep taking the body. We love it, need it, have to have it. Richards with two assists! Skadi, I’m so happy to see so many points across the board. Muzzin gets a point! Richards gets two points! Kopitar gets a point! Williams gets a point! Brown gets a point! Penner gets a point! Voynov gets two points! Martinez gets a point! Stoll gets a point! Regehr gets a point! King gets a point! Carter gets a point! (Ahem, queue up Oprah voice) EVERY BODY GETS A POOOOOOIIIIINNNNTTTT!!!!
While Quick bailed out the boys last match, they returned the favor tonight. Go, Kings, Go indeed. I do think this game will go to an exciting 7th game so clear your calendars and schedules for Sunday. Send the wives and girlfriends to a spa day. Wake up early and do whatever superstitious pre game ritual you partake in. Chicago, we’re looking at you. Or the Wild if they manage to go crazy.
1-0 Backes, with assists by Bouwmeester and Sobotka
This is a bit of a fluke goal, but it’s a goal regardless. Quick is a bit out of position, to be fair. He’s coming up to challenge the shot and the most visible threat. Bouwmeester fires off a shot and it goes wide. Backes just happens to be at the right place at the right time and dumps it in. That would be Regehr’s man to cover, but he was tied up in front of the net. Unlucky bounce, great positioning by Backes.
2-0 Oshie, with assists Shattenkirk and Perron
Powerplay goal. Fraser was in the box for a high sticking call. After winning the puck along the boards, Shattenkirk has an open shooting lane. None of the 4 LA defenders are in position for a shot block, and Doughty fails to tie up Oshie. He has his stick high and parallel, just tips it in. Defensive breakdown, failure to dig the puck out of the boards and clear it, bad penalty on Fraser’s part.
2-1 Carter, with assists by Richards and Regehr
Polak slides the puck up the boards to Oshie but Regehr intercepts. Quickly taps it ahead to Richards, the entirety of STL is rushing towards the offensive zone. Richards and Carter have a 2 on 1 situation and both of them are slightly ahead of the one defender STL has in the area. Richards quickly passes to Carter who shows extreme patience and quick hands. Rather than fire off a shot, he skates across the crease and waits for the backhand opportunity. Elliott goes for the pad save and Carter just flips it up and over his leg.
2-2 Penner, with assists by Stoll and Martinez
Quick kicks the puck out to the boards. Lewis hops on it. Lewis tosses the puck up to Martinez, who quickly advances with Stoll and Penner in a perfect 3 on 1 formation. This is an absolutely beautiful goal. They are all moving at the same rate of speed, tossing the pack back and forth between them. I hate the description “tic tac” but it does apply in this situation. due to the high rate of speed and 3 on 1 situation, Elliott isn’t sure where the point of attack will be. After they each possess the puck once, Martinez tosses it to Stoll who skates low slot. Rather than take the shot, he passes it to Penner who dumps it past Elliott. We can also thank the STL defense (Leopold in particular) for attempting to pinch on the forecheck.
In my humble opinion, this goal will be the turning point in the playoffs for LA. Carter’s goal you can write off as a pure snipe on an odd chance. Penner’s goal is due to great team work. It’s a pure highlight goal. Penner is a beloved team mate and to see him score and produce when he’s had a quiet season really does something for the team. This moment in the post season will be the moment everything turns around for LA.
3-2 Oshie, with assists by Sobotka and Berglund
Sobotka wins the faceoff in STL zone and takes off on a tear. Oshie gets in behind Scuderi (defensive breakdown.) Quick stops the shot by Sobotka, but misses catching it with the glove by a fraction of an inch. Oshie gets a nice rebound and tosses it up past Quick who is already sprawled out on the ice.
3-3 Kopitar, with assists by Brown and Muzzin
Muzzin passes to Brown, he takes a shot. Bouwmeester blocks the shot, Brown picks up the rebound. He displays some great puck handling, fires off a pass in between the STL defenders. Kopitar did a great job of driving towards the net and getting open while the attention was focused elsewhere. Elliott is covering short side while his defenders are all looking towards the opposite boards. It’s simple work for Kopitar to pop the puck in the net. Hopefully, this will put some pep back in Kopitar’s step. Brown, true to his character, instantly skates over and hugs Kopi. He’s never been a glory hound. Even though he did most (if not all) of the work for this goal, he pumps Kopi up. Kopi needed this. Way to go, Captain. Way to go.
4-3 Williams, with assists by Richards and King
Regehr fires off a rocket. He aimed low, and got a nice rebound as a result. King digs it out and gets it to Richards who fires off a shot. Williams is in great position and tips it in. Elliott instantly calls high sticking, and the refs go for a review. Being in the crowd during this time, as you can imagine, was intense. The entirety of Staples was full of fans making the karate chop motion that indicates a good goal. The officials call it good, and it is. I’ll happily take all the bad calls this game in order to accept this correct call.
Quick winds up with a .864% for the evening, stopping 19 of 22 shots. While that sounds a bit less than impressive, it was good enough for a win. The first STL goal he was out of position for. The second STL goal is due to a defensive breakdown. It’s tough to stop a tipped shot for any goaltender. For the third goal, Quick was already sprawled out and missed catching the glove by a fraction of an inch. Had he caught the puck the fat rebound would not have occurred.
Elliott winds up with a .862% for the evening, stopping 25 of 29 shots. For the first LA goal, you can blame the defense. For the second LA goal, you can blame the defense. In both occasions, his teammates left him hanging out to dry. For the third LA goal, you can blame the defense. Not one head was turned towards Kopi as everyone was watching Brown. Carter was also positioned low slot, so they really dropped the ball on this one. As I said a moment ago, it’s very tough to stop a tipped in puck. Elliott was doing his job tonight and you can’t truly blame him for the STL loss. The defense was off their game and LA’s offensive power put on a display.
Listed as scratches tonight were: Berube (goaltender recalled from the Ontario Reign since their season is over); Greene (still suffering from a lower body injury that will have him out for some time); Jones (goaltender recalled from Manchester Monarchs since their season is over); Jordan Nolan (Sutter is going with 7 defense again tonight); Brad Richardson (see previous statement); Nick Shore (prospect who’s season is over at University of Denver); and Tyler Toffoli (doesn’t have the playoff experience, physical strength or size needed for this series). The goaltender recalls you can take as an indication that Bernier is going goodbye in the off season (no surprise there with the salary cap issues) and Sutter is lining up his potential replacements.
Boxscore, Stats for the Game
Shots: STL 22, LAK 29
Inside the Staples Center
Due to arriving just as the puck dropped I was unable to catch the opening ceremony. I will tell you that the energy inside the building was addicting. If you’ve never been to a Kings game before, shame on you. You are denying yourself something incredible. Our boys need energy and the crowd was happy to oblige. I did snap a few decent pictures which I will post below (sorry for the netting). The biggest thing of note (in my mind) tonight was the “Mystery Puck” charity drive. For $25 you could purchase a puck signed by a random member of the team. I went to go check this out during intermission and it brought a smile to my face. The line was extremely long so I’m sure Kings Care brought in a good haul tonight. Based on the fans walking away opening their mystery bags, it would seem every player contributed. I heard several “I got a Brown puck!” or “F*** yes, I got a Quick puck!” as I walked by.
Leaving Staples tonight was also a treat. There were large groups of fans shouting “Go Kings Go” or “We want the cup *again*!” as they marched off to their vehicles.
Brown screening Elliott
Williams and Brown dominating the boards
Clifford, in true grinder fashion, ties up one defender while setting a pick against the other. Freeing up Carter and Williams to attack
Elliott staring at the scoreboard after crying for an above the post call
Another Kopi faceoff (he won 53% of his faceoffs tonight)
Playoff Penner fever, post game. You can also see Bailey’s ATV. When you see the Ice Crew with banners flying, you know it was a good night.
Open season on Quick (again.) The refs have allowed this nonsense all series long and break up any attempts by LA to defend their netminder.
Forever alone with his thoughts as he shoulders the weight of allowing a goal
Richards having a nice quiet chat with someone who messed with his ‘tendie. Quick keeps his head down.
Stars of the game for LA