Three key aspects of the Kings’ 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues...
1. STRONG ON THE KILL
In the regular season, the Blues were merely average on the power play, but in their first-round playoff series against San Jose, they were excellent, with six goals in 18 chances (33.3 percent). Penalty-killing, though, is a strength for the Kings. So, apparently, is scoring shorthanded goals. The Kings now have three of them in five games in this postseason, none less likely than the one Matt Greene scored late in the second period, when he astutely went to net and skillfully knocked in a rebound. The Kings went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and set the tone early, as they took a penalty 50 seconds into the game and killed it.
2. QUICK BIG, ESPECIALLY EARLY
It only seemed as though Jonathan Quick made about 20 big saves in the first period. The Blues actually had only 13 shots on goal in the period, and scored one goal, but the Blues easily could have had three goals if not for the tremendous effort of Quick, who was on his game. Quick challenged shooters but didn’t overplay the puck, a critical combination for him. Quick had absolutely no chance on David Backes’ deflection goal, and overall he was the Kings’ best player. The Kings did a better job, after the first 10 minutes, of keeping the Blues out of prime scoring areas, but Quick was big again late in the third period, when pressured.
3. SECOND-PERIOD RESET
For the Kings to walk back to the locker room in a 1-1 game at the first intermission must have been a huge relief. The Blues were outstanding in the first 10 minutes and took an early lead, but the Kings stayed poised and actually played better once they fell behind. Their play took another positive turn in the second period. Greene’s shorthanded goal, with 1:03 remaining in the period, was the obvious highlight. Other than that, the Kings didn’t dominate the period, by any stretch of the imagination, but they settled into the game and looked more comfortable at both ends. They held the Blues to 16 shots on goal in the final two periods.