Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Blues, Kings down to mini series

Pivotal Game 5 to be played at Scottrade Center; St. Louis has won
eight straight at home, isn't lacking confidence after losing 2-0 series lead

ST. LOUIS -- Every game has been decided by one goal. Both teams feel like they could have won all four.

This is how tight the series between the Blues and Los Angeles Kings has gone.

The Blues had the early momentum by winning the first two at Scottrade Center. The Kings grabbed it back with a pair of victories in Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center.

(St. Louis Blues photo)
T.J. Oshie celebrates one of his two goals Monday night in L.A.
It sets up the pivotal Game 5 back in St. Louis Wednesday night (8 p.m. on FSN, KMOX 1120-AM) where the Blues have won eight in a row and the Kings having lost eight straight on the road. On the flip side, the defending Stanley Cup champs have won nine in a row at home.

So what can be made of the series so far? It's everything everyone cooked it up to be.

"It's been like, 'Who's got control of anything right now?,'" Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They got momentum off the game (Monday). I don't think they got momentum off of Game 3. We probably deserved a better fate in (Game) 3, but they took the game (Monday). They were better than we were. They won a lot of puck battles that we'd been winning before. They dialed it up. There's another level out there. It's our job now to answer the level.

"We got home ice, we've earned it. It's a best-of-3 now. We'll see where it goes. It's been very intense, hard hockey. They went up in a gear (Monday) that we're going to have to find an answer for."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter agreed with Hitchcock's assessment that nobody's got control of anything yet.

"There hasn't been much difference in the games whether it's home or road," Sutter said. "It's all one-goal games and they're all third-period games and you just go shift by shift."

The Blues, who took Games 1 and 2 both by 2-1 scores, have to be a bit shaken after coming away with a 1-0 Game 3 loss, then squandering 2-0 and 3-2 leads in Game 4, only to see the Kings win with a two-goal third period 4-3.

But if their confidence is shaken at all, they're not showing it.

"I don't think our confidence is shaken here," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "If anything, we're just disappointed with what happened (Monday night) because we know we could have done better. We know we could have responded better to it and I think we've shown it in three games. It's not like we don't know what we have to do to get back to the right way."

Added defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

"Yeah, to think we’re not confident is ... not a very good statement," Pietrangelo said. "We were up 2-0 in the series, we were up 2-0 in the game (Monday). We know what we’ve got to do. We’ve just got to find a way to play. We didn’t get blown out. A lot of positive things to build on."

David Backes and T.J. Oshie, who scored twice in the game, spotted the Blues a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. It was the kind of start the Blues were looking for, the kind that they were maybe lacking in Game 3. But then the mistakes came, the Kings pushed back and got the Blues on their heels.

"It's a tough game out there," Backes said. "I just think that there were some plays we were hesitating a little bit on, or we were leaning a bit too much on the offensive side after we scored two. With their firepower and their skill up front, you can't give them too many extra opportunities or they'll make you pay, and they did.

(St. Louis Blues photo)
Patrik Berglund (21) and teammates celebrate a goal by the
Blues Monday night in Los Angeles. They will look to bounce
back in Game 5 Wednesday in St. Louis.
"We’ve got some soul-searching to do, look in the mirror and bring a better effort and more composed effort when we get home on Wednesday."

One thing is certain, and that is the Kings found another level. It's up to the Blues to try and match it and overtake it.

"They just got a gear," Hitchcock said of the Kings. "They got a gear that they know how to get to. That's what championship teams do. It's our job to answer it."

Now it comes down to a mini series.

"We're in a good position still," defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "You just approach it now like it's a three-game series. Don't get too far ahead of yourself."

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