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Blues ready to confront desperate group of Kings

by Louie Korac

LOS ANGELES -- The St. Louis Blues have a 2-0 series lead heading into Saturday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), but won't sit comfortably thinking the series is in the bag.

Both games in St. Louis, 2-1 victories (the first in overtime), could have gone the other way with one shot. But the Blues, who have never lost when leading a Stanley Cup Playoff series 2-0 (they're 10-0 in franchise history) will look to snap a five-game losing skid in Staples Center, including a 6-4 collapse March 5 when they led 4-1 in the second period.

"For us, we just have to play 60 minutes with competitive composure," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're going to have to absorb some blows, just like you do any place on the road, but we just have to maintain our composure. We gathered it back in (Thursday) in the second half of the game and won the game because of it. We're going to have to find a way to have to do it for more minutes than 30 minutes if we expect to win in this building."

The Kings went 19-4-1 on home ice this season, and the Blues expect nothing but the defending champs' best. An 0-3 deficit makes it all but certain the Kings would become the third straight defending champ to bow out the following season in the first round.

"Desperate teams are the most dangerous because they're hungry and they're not going to stop for a full 60 minutes or however long it takes," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "It's a scary thing to go up against, but at the same time, we can apply that same mentality and play like we're down in the series 2-0 instead of being up.

"... However, we do have to play with a little prosperity and know we can close this out here if we play the right way."

One year after the Blues were getting swept out of the postseason by the Kings in this building, the tides have changed and the Blues can do the same with a pair of wins Saturday night and Monday night.

"The roles are completely reversed, which is nice for us," Shattenkirk said. "But at the same time, just from last year, they played well in the playoffs at home. ... They have a great crowd and they seem to respond well when they're getting some energy from their crowd. It's going to be important for us to be able to push through those situations."

Teammate Alex Pietrangelo agreed.

"Obviously now we're going to be in their building, it's going to be a little bit of a different atmosphere for us," Pietrangelo said. "You don't have the adrenaline quite as much as having your own fans behind you, but I think if we go out there and play the way we have been on the road this year (the Blues were 14-9-1), I think it's going to result in another [win] for us. But we know it's not going to be easy."

The Blues won't fix what's not broken, so there will be no lineup changes heading into Game 3:

Jaden Schwartz - David Backes - Alexander Steen

Andy McDonald - Vladimir Sobotka - Chris Stewart

David Perron - Patrik Berglund - T.J. Oshie

Adam Cracknell - Chris Porter - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Jordan Leopold - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Kris Russell, Ian Cole, Vladimir Tarasenko, Scott Nichol, Andrew Murray, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jeff Woywitka, Jani Hakanpaa, Taylor Chorney, Evgeny Grachev

Injured: Jamie Langenbrunner (hip, IR)

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