ST. LOUIS -- Barret Jackman never saw the puck hit the back of the net. All the veteran defenseman had to do was listen -- he heard all he needed to hear when the Scottrade Center crowd erupted after his last-minute goal gave the St. Louis Blues their second straight stunning victory.
Jackman's first career playoff goal put the Blues in the driver's seat in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Los Angeles Kings. His wrist shot from the top of the left circle with 50.4 seconds remaining in regulation gave the Blues a come-from-behind 2-1 win against the Kings and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
"I had my eyes closed, so I really didn't see it," Jackman joked. "The building erupted, and it's a pretty good feeling. We closed it off tonight and not giving up a goal late.
"I thought I wasn't going to shoot knowing the way my hands are, but I just put it on net past the d-man. I don't know if [Kings goalie Jonathan Quick] saw all of it."
Jackman took a pass from Chris Stewart, after the Blues were able to take advantage of an uncharacteristic 3-on-2 rush so late in the game. Stewart had two options and chose Jackman coming in from the blue line. Jackman was just inside the top of the left circle when he snapped a wrister past Quick, who seemed screened a bit by defenseman Drew Doughty.
"I was a bit surprised," Stewart said. "It was probably our first 3-on-2 of the night. I skated to my left and [Jackman] and [Andy McDonald] were both calling for it. [Jackman] was wide-open. When he's open, you've seen that goal a few times this year. He has a missile, and we got a good bounce."
Quick, who lost the puck in overtime of Game 1 that resulted in Alexander Steen's shorthanded winner, said Jackman's shot was one he had to have.
"I've got to stop that," he said. "It's my fault ... two games in a row. I've got to be better."
Patrik Berglund also scored and Brian Elliott stopped 28 shots for the Blues, who want to prove they can defeat the defending champions after being swept out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Kings a season ago.
They're halfway there as the series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 Saturday and Monday.
The Kings, who last trailed 0-2 in a playoff series in the 2002 conference quarterfinals against the Colorado Avalanche, got a first-period goal from Dustin Brown. Quick stopped 23 shots for Los Angeles, which was 19-1-2 in the regular season when leading after two periods.
"We didn't expect to be in [this position], but it's our own fault," Doughty said. "We're in this position. We've been fully prepared for their game, fully prepared for what they're going to do against us and we just haven't stepped up to the plate."
Quick appeared to take a puck to the groin area during warm-ups; he bent over in some discomfort and skated crunched over toward the center-ice line before leaving the ice in frustration. There was some buzz about whether he'd be able to play but he led the Kings onto the ice and showed no ill effects.
The Blues were shorthanded four times in the first period four times and fell behind after giving the Kings a 5-on-3 advantage. With Ryan Reaves already in the box for high-sticking, Jackman was whistled for interference on Doughty after the whistle had blown a play offside. Los Angeles took advantage when Brown deflected Mike Richards' shot past Elliott 9:55 into the game for a 1-0 lead.
For Jackman, getting the winner after putting his team in a two-man hole felt like redemption.
"Obviously a 5-on-3, it was tough," Jackman said. "We didn't continue to let them get momentum after that. We played hard and got some things going our way. The third period was our best."
The game was chippy for long stretches in the first period, which was expected with the Kings down in the series and searching for a spark.
The second period was scoreless thanks to Quick and Elliott.
The St. Louis goaltender was able to make a stop on Justin Williams from close range late in the period. He also benefited when Brown was in alone early in the period but slid his backhand wide of the net.
Quick's best save came on Steen's one-timer from the right circle; he got just enough with his glove while the Blues were on the power play with just under 10 minutes left in the second.
St. Louis got the equalizer 3:44 into the third period when Alex Pietrangelo threw a puck toward the crease and a streaking Berglund; the puck hit his skate and deflected into the left corner past Quick. The play was called a goal on the ice and confirmed after a video review.
"I didn't see the puck. It kind of bounced on me," Berglund said. "Obviously a good feeling it went in."
It was the kind of goal a team trailing at home in the third period needed to boost their morale as well as get the crowd buzzing again.
"I think so, because we had so many good scoring chances throughout both last game and this game," Berglund said. "I think it was good for us to put it in early obviously so we can keep working to score the second goal."
The Blues got a bit of a scare with 10:51 remaining in the third when Brown went crashing into the side of the goal St. Louis net, taking Elliott with him. The goaltender was down for a bit, received attention from the Blues training staff, but shook it off and stayed in the game.
Elliott was unavailable to speak to the media, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said his goalie was fine.
Now it's onto Staples Center, where the Blues will hope to put the champs in a deeper hole. The Blues are 10-0 in franchise history when taking a 2-0 playoff series lead.
Not that they're ready to declare victory.
"I don't think there's one person in the room that thinks we're in control of anything other than the number that says 2-0," Hitchcock said. "I don't think we're in control of anything. I don't think they feel like they're in control of anything. This is two teams that are going to fight this right to the end, and I think every player in that locker room knows that. ... It's that close. Every shift seems like it's the last shift on earth.
"This is a highly charged series. This is a very emotional game. It's hard to play with such strong intensity and emotion that you need to because they're such a competitive team and then still be able to play your position. Those are the things we're learning. Regardless if we would have won today, I was just happy with the way we played when we kind of calmed down a little bit and started to play better positional hockey."
|Alexander Steen Tripping against Dustin Brown|
|Jaden Schwartz Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Dustin Penner Too many men/ice - bench|
|Ryan Reaves Hi-sticking against Colin Fraser|
|Barret Jackman Interference against Drew Doughty|
|Dustin Brown Tripping against Jaden Schwartz|
|Jordan Nolan Slashing against Adam Cracknell|
|Dustin Penner Boarding against David Backes|