After winning first two games, Blues find themselves on brink of elimination
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- After roaring out of the gates and winning the first two games of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Blues suddenly find themselves with their backs against the wall.
And when their backs have been against the playoff wall in recent memory, the results haven't been pretty.
Slava Voynov's goal eight minutes into overtime, a soft shot that beat Brian Elliott that gave the Kings a 3-2 win over the Blues in Game 5 Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Alex Steen (right) checks Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr.
Voynov joined the rush with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams on a 3-on-2 and slid a soft shot that somehow got through Elliott for the winner after the Blues had tied the game in the final minute of the third period.
"We (were) trying to score, and we got caught on a play on the wall, got beat up the ice from the guy that scored the goal below the goal line," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He won the race up the ice."
Said defenseman Barret Jackman: "They get an odd-man rush and get a bit of a lucky goal. That happens in overtime. That's why you shoot the puck. You never know what can happen."
The Blues got the equalizing goal from Alex Pietrangelo with 44.1 seconds remaining and felt as if though they had momentum.
"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."
The defending champs can advance to the second round of the postseason with a victory in Game 6 Friday at Staples Center where they've won nine straight.
"Another one goal game but we came out on top," said Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who stopped 34 shots. "We've got another one to win so we're going to go home and get our rest tomorrow and get ready for the following day.
"We've still got a lot of work to do so we're going to get ready for this next one."
Jeff Carter scored twice, Mike Richards and Kopitar each had two assists as the Kings snapped an eight-game road losing streak dating back to the regular season.
Alexander Steen also scored for the Blues, and Elliott stopped 22 shots as the Blues saw their eight-game home winning streak snapped.
"It was our best effort collectively," Hitchcock said. "It was our best effort of the year. ... We got a heck of an effort from everybody across the board. We had no passengers today. We had an all-in mentality. Other than probably six minutes into the third period, we poured a lot of pucks at them.
"Probably if you're lamenting anything is that we missed the net on some shots that gave them some exits that could have even kept them in the zone for longer periods of time. Once we started really dialing it up, I was really impressed with the way we played."
With Jackman in the box for a tripping penalty on Dustin Brown late in the period, Carter got his second of the game and third in two games when he took Kopitar's cross-ice feed on the power play and snapped a shot into the open side 54 seconds into the third period for a 2-1 Kings lead. Richards was able to freely get into the Blues' zone without much resistance before getting the puck to Kopitar, who made the final pass.
It marked the first time in nine games (dating back to April 14) the Blues have allowed more than one goal in a home game. They allowed exactly one goal in eight straight contests.
With Elliott pulled for an extra attacker, David Backes won a crucial faceoff from Jarret Stoll back to Pietrangelo, the Blues' defenseman skated to the middle of the ice and fired a wrister through traffic past a screened Quick with 44.1 seconds remaining to tie it 2-2.
"It was a good faceoff by [Backes]," Blues forward Jaden Schwartz said. "Just went back to Petro and there were probably four or five guys in front of the net. It went through a lot of bodies and went in."
The Blues held a 9-3 shots advantage for the first part of the opening period and dictated the tempo, but were unable to solve Quick.
"It's going to happen," Pietrangelo said. "We've had a lot of opportunities to score in the series. Sometimes they're just not going in. If it takes three overtimes, we're going to fight to the end. Sometimes it takes a last-minute goal there to get back into it, but I thought we did a lot of good things tonight."
Los Angeles jumped ahead just 14 seconds into the second period when Carter popped home Drew Doughty's point shot after winning the faceoff himself. Carter won the draw from T.J. Oshie, who replaced Patrik Berglund after getting kicked out of the faceoff circle. Carter won the draw to Doughty and split the Blues' defense and knocked in the rebound after Elliott made the initial save.
But the Blues got the equalizer when Steen got his third of the series on pure persistence. Steen had a break-in moments earlier after picking Jake Muzzin's pocket and was stopped on a wraparound attempt. The Blues continued to pressure and Steen was able to curl around the net after thwarting off Muzzin again, use Oshie as a bit of a screen and snap one over Quick's stick 6:46 into the second to tie it 1-1.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Alex Pietrangelo celebrates his game-tying goal in the final minute
against Los Angeles Wednesday night.
"It's frustrating," said Schwartz, who chopped his stick at Voynov's shot in overtime. "There's a lot of emotions. We lost a very important hockey game.
"I thought we played a pretty solid hockey game for the most part. We battled back hard. It was just an unfortunate bounce in the end."
The Blues will have their work cut out for them. They're 0-7 in their last seven elimination games, with the last win coming April 23, 2000, a 6-2 win at San Jose in Game 6. They lost that series in seven games.
"I thought we played well," Steen said. "We had some ups-and-downs during the course of the game, but for the most part I thought we played well."