OT goal gives Kings a third straight win
ST. LOUIS -- Turns out the reports of the demise of the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings might have been a bit premature.
Slava Voynov scored eight minutes into overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night, which also gave Los Angeles a lead in the first-round series by the same margin.
The Kings lost the first two games of the series last week in St. Louis but won Games 3 and 4 at home before prevailing Wednesday at Scottrade Center.
Voynov scored the winning goal on a three-on-two rush, taking a pass from Anze Kopitar and sliding a shot under the pads of St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott, giving the Kings their first road win in nine games and handing the Blues their first home loss in nine games.
"I saw that it was a three-on-two, and I jumped the rush on the right side and it was a nice pass from Kopi," Voynov said.
All five games in the series have been decided by one goal.
Jeff Carter scored both of Los Angeles' goals in regulation Wednesday, and he said going home with the lead gives the Kings a big advantage. Los Angeles has won its past nine games at Staples Center.
"We're comfortable at home," Carter said. "We've played some good hockey there. Obviously to get back home in front of our fans is a huge boost for us, and we'll go back and try to win the game.
"I thought we did a lot of good things. Starting the series 0-2 wasn't the best start. It wasn't the start we were looking for, but we worked on things and we talked about things, and I think it's showing in our game now."
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock praised the effort of his team and said he did not believe the series over, basically repeating the same message he said last week when the Blues led the series by two games.
"This is not over," Hitchcock said. "Somebody's got to win another hockey game, and if we can raise our spirits again and go at it again like we did, I like our chances.
"It was our best effort collectively of the year. We played a hell of a hockey game. If we play like that again, I like our chances. All we have to do is win a road game to get it back here again. If that is how we play and the effort and the all-in attitude, I really like our chances. We had no passengers today. We had an all-in mentality. If you are lamenting anything, it's that we missed the net on some shots that gave them some exits which could have kept them in the zone for even longer periods of time."
The Blues were only 44 seconds away from losing in regulation when Alex Pietrangelo fired a wrist shot past Jonathan Quick to tie the game and send it into overtime. The goal came with Elliott off the ice in favor of an extra attacker.
It was the second overtime game in the series, which now heads back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Friday night. If Game 7 is necessary, it would be played Monday night in St. Louis.
"We are a resilient group," Carter said. "A lot of guys have been through a lot of different experiences over their careers, and I think we all kind of draw off that. We don't get too high, we don't get too low, and that's a big thing for us."
Quick was happy to get the win in overtime after allowing the late tying goal, the third goal scored in the series in the final minute of regulation.
"It was another one-goal game but we came out on top," he said. "We've got another one to win, so we're going to go home and get our rest (Thursday) 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."
It would not be a surprise if that game goes into overtime either.
"Overtime is a crapshoot," Hitchcock said. "We won a game in overtime that they were probably thinking they were going to win. I know to win the Cup you've got to win most of your overtime games, but to me, the way we played, that's what we have to build on. Effort is all you can ask this time of year. You need an all-in mentality, and we had that."
The Kings took a 2-1 lead on Carter's second goal of the game, which came on a power-play goal just 54 seconds into the final period. He was left alone in front of the net and took a pass from Kopitar and fired a shot past Elliott.
The Kings had opened the period on the power play because of a tripping penalty called against the Blues' Barret Jackman with five seconds left in the second period. It was only the second power-play goal of the series for the Kings.
After a scoreless first period, the Kings took a 1-0 lead just 14 seconds into the second period. Carter knocked in a rebound of a shot by Drew Doughty for his second goal of the series.
The Blues tied the game at 6:46 of the period when Alexander Steen stole the puck and skated from behind his net before firing a shot past Quick. It was Steen's team-leading third goal of the playoffs.
Hitchcock knows what it is going to take for the Blues to win on Friday and force the seventh game in St. Louis.
"They are the defending Stanley Cup champions," he said. "They compete on every puck. You have a choice, either compete on every puck or get pushed out of the game. It's pretty simple. They don't give you any easy ice, so you have to go out there and compete. If you're not willing to do it, over the course of 60 minutes they wear you down. What's impressed me is that we are going in there and we're fighting like crazy."
NOTES: The Blues made one lineup change for Game 5, with Adam Cracknell returning as part of the fourth line with Ryan Reaves and Chris Porter. Rookie Vladimir Tarasenko was a healthy scratch. ... The Kings scratched defenseman Keaton Ellerby and inserted forward Tyler Toffoli in the lineup for the first time in the series. ... The winner of the St. Louis-Los Angeles series will not have to play the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the second round, thanks to the San Jose Sharks' upset of the Vancouver Canucks. Either the Sharks or the Detroit Red Wings will play the Blackhawks in the second round, with the Blues or Kings playing either San Jose or the Anaheim Ducks.