Friday, May 3, 2013

Jackman's late goal gives Blues 2-0 series lead over Kings

Defenseman's goal with under a minute to
play helps St. Louis overcome third-period deficit

ST. LOUIS -- Barret Jackman didn't have to see the shot. All he had to do was listen.

The 18,681 screaming fans told the whole story. And the story at the end of night that seemed destined to go past the midnight hour is that the Blues have a 2-0 series lead against the defend Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
(St. Louis Blus/Mark Buckner)
Chris Stewart (25) and teammates celebrate Barret Jackman's last-minute
goal that beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in Game 2 of the conference

Jackman's first career playoff goal put the Blues in the driver's seat in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series. His wrist shot from just inside of the left circle with 50.4 seconds remaining gave the Blues a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the Kings in the best-of-7 series Thursday night at Scottrade Center.

Sometimes it's best to close your eyes because one can paint a pretty solid picture. It was the best possible picture Jackman could have envisioned.

"I had my eyes closed, so I really didn't see it," Jackman joked. "The building erupted, and it's a pretty good feeling. We closed it off tonight and not giving up a goal late.

"I thought I wasn't going to shoot knowing the way my hands are, but I just put it on net past the d-man. I don't know if (Kings goalie Jonathan Quick) saw all of it."

Jackman got a pass from Chris Stewart, after the Blues were able to take advantage of an uncharacteristic 3-on-2 so late in the game. Stewart had two options and chose Jackman coming in from the blue line. Jackman was just inside the top of the left circle and snapped a wrister past Quick, who seemed screened a bit by defenseman Drew Doughty.

"I was a bit surprised," Stewart said. "It was probably our first 3-on-2 of the night. I skated to my left and (Jackman) and (Andy McDonald) were both calling for it. (Jackman) was wide open. When he's open, you've seen that goal a few times this year. He has a missile, and we got a good bounce."

Quick, who lost the puck in overtime of Game 1 that resulted in Alexander Steen's shorthanded winner, said it's a shot he has to have.

"I've got to stop that," the Kings' netminder said. "It's my fault ... two games in a row. I've got to be better."

The Blues want to prove they can defeat the defending champions after being swept out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Kings a season ago.

They're halfway there.

The series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 Saturday and Monday.

Patrik Berglund also scored for the Blues, and Brian Elliott stopped 28 shots.

The Kings, who last trailed 0-2 in a playoff series in the 2002 conference quarterfinals against the Colorado Avalanche, got a goal from Dustin Brown. Quick stopped 23 shots for Los Angeles, which was 19-1-2 in the regular season when leading after two periods.

"We didn't expect to be in [this position], but it's our own fault," Doughty said. "We're in this position. We've been fully prepared for their game, fully prepared for what they're going to do against us and we just haven't stepped up to the plate."

Quick appeared to take a puck to the groin area, bent over in some discomfort and skated crunched over toward the center-ice line during warm-ups and left the ice in frustration. There was some buzz whether he'd be able to play but he was able to recover.

The Blues were shorthanded in the first period four times and fell behind 5-on-3. With Ryan Reaves already in the box for high-sticking, Jackman was whistled for interference on Kings Doughty after the whistle had already blown for an offsides play. Los Angeles took advantage when Brown deflected Mike Richards' shot 9:55 into the game for a 1-0 lead.

So for Jackman to get the winner after putting his team in a two-man disadvantage early feels like retribution.

"Obviously a 5-on-3, it was tough," Jackman said. "We didn't continue to let them get momentum after that. We played hard and got some things going our way. The third period was our best."

It was chippy for long stretches in the first period, which was expected with the Kings down in the series and searching for a spark.

The second period was scoreless thanks to Quick and Elliott.

The St. Louis goaltender was able to make a stop on Justin Williams from close range late in the period. He also benefited when Brown was in alone early in the period but slid his backhand wide of the net.

Quick's best save came on Steen's one-timer from the right circle, getting just enough with his glove while the Blues were on the power play with just under 10 minutes left in the second.

The Blues got the equalizer 3:44 into the third period when Alex Pietrangelo threw a puck toward the crease and a streaking Berglund, who was able to deflect it, hitting off his skate and into the left corner past Quick. The officials looked at it, but a goal was ruled on the ice and video review confirmed the call.

"I didn't see the puck. It kind of bounced on me," Berglund said. "Obviously a good feeling it went in."

It was the kind of goal a team at home down in the third needed to boost their morale as well as get the crowd buzzing again.

"I think so, because we had so many good scoring chances throughout both last game and this game," Berglund said. "I think it was good for us to put it in early obviously so we can keep working to score the second goal."

The Blues got a bit of a scare with 10:51 remaining in the third when Brown tried to gain the left edge on Pietrangelo and went crashing into the side of the goal, taking Elliott with him. The goaltender was down for a bit, received attention from the Blues training staff, but shook it off and stayed in the game.

Elliott was unavailable to speak to the media, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said his goalie was fine.

Now it's onto Staples Center, where the Blues will hope to put the champs in a deeper hole. The Blues are 10-0 in franchise history when taking a 2-0 playoff series lead.

(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Alex Pietrangelo (second from left) gives teammate Barret Jackman a
high-five after Jackman scored the winning goal Thursday.
"I don't think there's one person in the room that thinks we're in control of anything other than the number that says two-zero," Hitchcock said. "I don't think we're in control of anything. I don't think they feel like they're in control of anything. This is two teams that are going to fight this right to the end, and I think every player in that locker room knows that. ... It's that close. Every shift seems like it's the last shift on earth.

"This is a highly-charged series. This is a very emotional game. It's hard to play with such strong intensity and emotion that you need to because they're such a competitive team and then still be able to play your position. Those are the things we're learning. Regardless if we would have won today, I was just happy with the way we played when we kind of calmed down a little bit and started to play better positional hockey."

But for one night, Jackman, who was asked where the goal ranks in his career, can bask in his own and the team's glory for one night.

"It's pretty big. It's very emotional," Jackman said. "I don't get the opportunity to score goals very often. It's a big thrill and we'll enjoy it tonight and move onto LA."

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