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Kings return home with chance to close out Blues

by Brian Hunter


(Los Angeles leads best-of-7 series, 3-2)


Big story: The tables have completely turned and now the Los Angeles Kings, who dropped the first two games of this series and could hardly buy a goal over the first three, are in position to eliminate the St. Louis Blues and win their fifth consecutive round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Slava Voynov's second game-winning goal in five days, scored eight minutes into overtime of Game 5 on Wednesday night, gave the Kings a 3-2 victory and series lead.

Team Scope:

Blues: This time around St. Louis must come out of Staples Center with a victory if it wants to continue its season. The Blues' troubles began when they lost a pair of games in Los Angeles and were compounded Wednesday when they became the first team in this series to lose on home ice.

Alex Pietrangelo temporarily saved the day when he scored with 44.1 seconds left in regulation and goalie Brian Elliott on the bench for an extra attacker, but an odd-man rush against them in the extra period resulted in Voynov's winning goal. It was an especially difficult pill to swallow given the Blues felt they played their best game of the postseason.

"To tie the game with that much time left, a real good feeling, but again, a tough time to lose," Pietrangelo said. "It's tough to lose in overtime when you're that close. We've just got to go in there and get the win [in Game 6] and win on home ice on Monday."

Kings: Voynov played the role of hero in overtime during Game 5, but two other key members of the 2012 Stanley Cup championship team had their fingerprints all over the crucial victory. Jeff Carter scored in the opening minute of both the second and third periods, and Jonathan Quick stopped 34 shots and came out on the positive end of an OT game at Scottrade Center after coughing up the puck to Alex Steen for the winning goal in the series opener.

Los Angeles raced to 3-0 leads in all four rounds a year ago, but was 4-4 in games when it had the chance to eliminate an opponent. The Kings know they can win in St. Louis, but they would prefer to spend their weekend not having to worry about a Game 7 on Monday.

"We're comfortable at home," Carter told the Los Angeles Times. "We've been playing some good hockey there. To get back in front of our fans is a huge boost for us. We'll go back and try to win a game."

Who's hot: Steen scored his team-leading third goal of the series in Game 5 and his 16 shots are tied for most on the Blues with Chris Stewart. … Carter has three goals in the past two games for the Kings to give him the team lead. Mike Richards has four assists in the past two games and his five points lead all scorers in the series.

Injury report: Neither team has any new injuries to report.

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