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Kings regroup looking for more goals

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The sun came up for the Los Angeles Kings when they returned home Friday. In fact, it was 93 degrees in L.A. and the Kings tried to put a sunny outlook on their 2-0 deficit against the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

The Kings last faced a 2-0 series hole in the 2002 conference quarterfinals. They last time they erased such a deficit and won was in the 2001 conference quarterfinals against the Detroit Red Wings.

This is drastically different from the Stanley Cup run last season in which Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead in all four postseason series.

“We’re not going to do what we did last year,” forward Dustin Penner said. “We've got to find different ways to win games now.

“We expect to win them all. We know based on reality, that’s probably not going to happen. But you just take each task on as it comes at you. Now we’re down, 2-0, we've got to worry about having a good start. They’re going to come in here -- opportunity lies in front of them -- they want to get that third one just like we did last year. We've got to combat what they’re going to bring to the table.”

The Kings have scored two goals in the series, one with the extra attacker in Game 1, and a 5-on-3 goal in Game 2. Each game ended 2-1 in St. Louis' favor.

“It just tells you how close the teams are,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “It’s a matter of cashing in opportunities. Quite honest, in both games, both teams had 1-0 leads and weren’t able to score the second goal during regulation. If there was any frustration from our game last night, that would be it. We played a really good game and we had guys, your top scorers, with opportunities to go up, 2-0, and couldn’t cash in.”

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick placed blame on himself, particularly on Barret Jackman’s game-winning goal with 51 seconds left, a wrist shot Quick saw clearly. But he is the furthest from their issues and can hardly be faulted with a 1.81 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

This really has the feel of last regular season, when the Kings couldn’t give Quick enough offensive support. In his 21 regulation losses last season, L.A. scored 23 goals, including five 1-0 losses. To a man the Kings understand Quick’s mindset.

“Everybody’s shouldering the burden,” Penner said. “He does that because he wants to be better. Everybody wants to be better. He does that as a leader, as a veteran, to push himself. So we’re not all gathering around him and singing 'Kumbaya' because he’s saying that.”

Will a shift to Staples Center help? The Kings went 19-4-1 and outscored opponents 74-44 there in the regular season. But it won’t matter if they can’t penetrate the Blues’ defense and play a better puck-possession game.

“As a team we have to move the puck north a little better,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “After we move it north, I think we have to try to have some more offensive control of the puck. We have great forwards. We’re getting good chances. I think if we have a little more sustained attack I like our chances scoring some more goals."

Greene a possibility: Sutter said defenseman Matt Greene is available to play but the coach hasn’t made that decision yet. Greene returned from back surgery and played the last four regular-season games but Sutter wasn’t entirely happy with his play.

“Yeah he’s possible,” Sutter said. “I think that everybody that’s out skating today is possible playing tomorrow. We’ve got some guys banged up that aren’t. We’ll see how it is in the morning and go from there.”

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