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Kings Grit Their Way Back Into the Series
It wasn't pretty by any means, but the Kings announced their presence in the series. Thanks to a gritty goal by Slava Voynov in the second period, the Kings got the 1-0 victory after losing two disappointing games in St. Louis.
"I don't think anyone's happy with how we played," captain Dustin Brown said about the Kings performance in Game 1 and the third period of Game 2. They as a team knew they had to show up for the full 60 minutes.
It had been two years since the Kings trailed in a playoff series. It had also been since 2002 that the Kings trailed 0-2 in a playoff series. They didn't come back to win either, but in order to buck that trend it would seem the Kings would have to win this game.
Head coach Darryl Sutter scoffed at the suggestion of a must-win game after the morning skate, playing desperate and all other cliches we have worn thin through the years. It looked the rest of the team scoffed along.
One thing head coach Darryl Sutter did was dress seven defenseman bringing up Alec Martinez while sending center Jordan Nolan back into a three-piece suit.
"I'm just trying to get a little more out of everyone," Sutter said about the move. Sutter already acknowledged that scoring was going to be difficult. "Not much for goals. You can't get frustrated by it."
Through one period it seemed only Kyle Clifford and Justin Williams had joined goaltender Jonathan Quick on the ice. Clifford had a shot blocked, two missed shots, three hits ands two takeaways during the first 20 minutes while Williams tallied two missed shots. Other than that the period was filled with the Kings being sloppy with the puck in their zone and not getting much pressure on Blues goaltender Brian Elliott.
"This is a fun time of the year," Williams said. "I love moving on. I love winning."
Early in the second period the Kings finally broke open the scoring, among the grittiest goals I've ever seen in a while. Mike Richards made the original shot on Brian Elliott which sent everyone collapsing to the net. Kyle Clifford took a hack on the rebound, and Elliott seemed to have stopped the puck. However the puck squirted out to Slava Voynov who was sitting back for defensive purposes. He took the shot high as bodies were still collapsed in front of Elliott. I mean, look at it:
"That's how you score goals," Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold said. "You go to the net and you dig and you grind."
For Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, he expected all of this sort of battle.
"It is a hell of a battle, and it won't be any different on Monday," Hitchcock said. "There is not much difference between the two teams, both goalies are on top of their game. Our guy was great again tonight, their guy was a little bit better."
Elliott made 20 saves while Quick turned away all 30 shots he faced. And things have been really tight. A bounce here, a lapse there, this series could be 3-0, 2-1, 1-2, 0-3.
Don't get me wrong. This has not been pretty hockey. Ask Quick who got sat on by David Perron in the third period as the play was going the other way. But just because the Kings are down two games to one doesn't mean they're the inferior team.
Having said that this isn't a recipe for the Stanley Cup, but you know the cliche that players and coaches like to use: take it one game at a time. The Kings will need to clean up the play in their own zone, but they did a good job of accounting for their errors.
The two face off against each other on Monday.
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