The Kings' dominance of the Blues was strong enough to overcome a two-goal deficit in the third period -- they scored three goals in a six-minute span Tuesday night on the way to a 6-4 victory.
Los Angeles trailed 4-1 in the second period and were still down 4-2 going into the third, but Mike Richards, Jake Muzzin and Jeff Carter scored on L.A.'s first seven shots as the Kings wrapped up their seventh win in eight games.
"We continue to believe in here," said Muzzin, who had two goals and a career-high three points. "We've got a confident group in here. We got a calm group in here, and we've got great leaders on the team. To stay with it and fight – we kind of said in here that maybe they're waiting for us to come out at them. That's what we did. We got an early one, and we got another one, and it we just kept building."
Including last year's sweep in the Western Conference Semifinals, Los Angeles has won seven straight against St. Louis and run roughshod over the Blues in almost every game. Kyle Clifford summed it up with an uppercut that briefly knocked out Roman Polak in the first period and electrified the crowd.
It was L.A. that looked woozy in the second period; the Kings were playing the second half of a home back-to-back. But pressure in the Blues' zone produced two goals on their first three shots of the third period to tie it at 4-4.
Richards cranked home a shot from the slot at 1:33 after Dustin Penner worked the boards, and Muzzin slipped a shot short side on Jaroslav Halak at 2:32. Carter's game-winner was a wrist shot from the left circle at 6:09 that chased Jaroslav Halak.
Apparently there weren't any big speeches at second intermission. The Kings simply continued their closing procedure: they have outscored opponents 25-12 in the third, including 8-1 the past two games.
This wasn't by design, though.
"We got away with one tonight, didn't have the best start, not the best second period but when you get four goals in the third that helps a lot and we came out firing," Kopitar said. "We said that after the second that we're going to throw everything at them and we did and it worked out."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter pointed to his team's 3-0 record in the second of back-to-backs. Two of those have come against St. Louis. Sutter also pointed to his young defensive group for this one.
"The four kids tonight were really, really good," Sutter said. "I thought Muzzin, [Keaton] Ellerby, [Slava] Voynov and Drew [Doughty] were outstanding on the back end."
Jonathan Bernier, starting on consecutive nights for the first time in his career, didn't make it past the early stages of the second period. Sutter typically doesn't like pulling his goalie, but he removed Bernier for Jonathan Quick after David Perron tipped Alex Pietrangelo just 1:14 into the second period for a 3-1 lead.
"I was just going to split them tonight," Sutter joked. "It was a good time to do it: back-to-back games."
Chris Stewart beat Quick with a wicked top-shelf backhand for a 4-1 lead before L.A. cut the margin back to two goals on Voynov's wrister from the right wall. St. Louis didn't have much after that, and captain David Backes knows why.
"We took our foot off the gas, and you can't do that against good teams," Backes said. "They took it to us. We made too many mistakes and they put it in the back of our net. We got off our game plan and tried to be too cute in our end when they were putting pressure on us, rather than just getting the puck out and working it down the ice the way we did in the first period.
"And the answer was four unanswered goals in the third and another bad feeling in this locker room."
The Kings prevailed despite going 0 for 6 on the power play. St. Louis has given L.A. 32 power plays in the past six meetings. It didn't matter in this one, though.
"The second something went wrong, we kind of got away from everything," Blues forward Ryan Reaves said. "We kind of started playing like individuals. That's never going to work in this league … once the game started slipping in the third we hit the panic button way too quick. It's just tough. It just looked like we slouched on the bench and we got away from our game right when they tied it up."
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