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Blues confident they can extend series on road

by Louie Korac

LOS ANGELES -- Despite holding a 2-0 series lead, despite seeing that lead in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs slip away and put the St. Louis Blues on the brink of elimination against the defending champs, coach Ken Hitchcock cautioned not to anoint the Los Angeles Kings winners of this Western Conference Quarterfinal.

"This is not over," Hitchcock said Wednesday on the heels of the Blues' 3-2 overtime loss to the Kings in Game 5. "Somebody's got to win another hockey game. If we can raise our spirits again and go at it again like we did, I like our chances."

They're confident words from a coach whose team just dropped its third straight in the series.

All five games between the Blues and Kings have been decided by one goal, leaving no margin for error. It was the Blues who made the small slip Wednesday that led to Slava Voynov's second game-winning goal of the series eight minutes into overtime.

"Every opportunity, every goal is important here," said Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, whose goal with 44.1 seconds remaining in the third period tied the score 2-2. "You never know what bounce is going to happen next. That's playoff hockey and we just have to keep grinding away."

Teammate Barret Jackman said nothing has surprised him in the series.

"That's exactly the way we thought it was going to be coming in," Jackman said. "We feel that both teams are very physical, skate very well and create a lot of turnovers with the forwards checking and the D-men's gaps.

"We knew it was going to be close. One goal each game, maybe a little bit more of a stretch than you thought, but it's exciting hockey and now we've just got to find a way to win."

The Blues' task is daunting, to say the least. Not only have the Kings won nine straight at Staples Center, the site of Game 6 Friday (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-MW, PRIME), but the Blues have dropped seven in a row (0-6-1) in the building since March 17, 2011.

Hitchcock didn't take many negative aspects away from Wednesday's loss other than the result, which is why he feels confident about winning here.

"If we play like that again, I like our chances," Hitchcock said. "All we've got to do is win a road game to get her back [to St. Louis for Game 7 Monday night]. I like our chances, if that's the effort and that's the all-in attitude we have, I really like our chances.

"There's lots of positives ... effort, discipline, structure, whatever you want. There's lots of positives. Overtime's a crap shoot. We win a game in overtime (Game 1), and I'm sure they're thinking they're going to win. I know to win the Cup, you've got to win most of your overtime games. But for me, the way we played, that's something that we've got to build on. If that's the type of effort ... that's all you can ask this time of year. But you need an all-in mentality. We had that. This felt very similar to Game 1, and we had an all-in mentality and dominated the game. We need to come with the same mentality for Game 6."

The Blues feel confident knowing they lost two games -- 1-0 in Game 3 and 4-3 in Game 4 -- they felt could have gone their way.

"We're still positive," Jackman said. "We still feel like we have a very good team that can easily skate with L.A. We have to continue to wear them down and go into L.A. and continue to do the little things that we did [Wednesday] night and hopefully we're on top in Game 6."

If not, it'll be the second straight season the Blues will see their season come to a close against the Kings, who eliminated them in a four-game sweep in the Western Conference Semifinals a year ago.

"It's always tough going into a road rink in the playoffs," Pietrangelo said. "Look at the atmosphere that we have [in St. Louis]. It's not quite the same in L.A. Their fans are a little bit quieter, but at the same time, it's tough to fly there and play that road game in their rink, but we thought we did a lot of good things in L.A. (in Games 3 and 4). We just go there, play our game and get this thing back [home] on Monday."

The Blues are 0-7 in their past seven elimination games dating to April 23, 2000, when they defeated the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the conference quarterfinals. The Blues lost that series in seven games.

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