The Los Angeles Kings finally managed to get the better of St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott on Saturday night, winning a 1-0 squeaker at Staples Center. On Monday, they will look to even the series up at two games apiece as they try to get their Stanley Cup title defense back on track.
How can the Kings do that? Here are three keys to the game for Los Angeles.
The Kings have been having a difficult time getting shots on goal in this series. In Games 1 and 2, the Kings did manage 29 shots in each contest, but they only were able to get 21 shots at Elliott, but were able to score because of an increased amount of traffic in front of the net, as well as a smart play by Slava Voynov, who skated back from the goal and then fired a shot through traffic.
If the Kings are going to win this series, they need to do one of two things. They either need to get more shots on goal, or, failing that, they need to continue crashing the net and making life difficult for Elliott. The Blues have been in control of the tempo of these games for the most part, but if the Kings can manage to get in Elliott’s face, then they may have an opportunity to sneak a couple more shots past him.
Jeff Carter Needs to Show Up
Carter has been a non-entity for the Kings so far in this postseason. He hasn’t registered point despite playing nearly 22 minutes per game, and he has only managed nine shots on goal, with only one of those coming in the team’s Game 3 victory.
Scoring depth comes in handy when it comes to the NHL playoffs, but the big guns on a team need to score too, and if Carter continues to fail to get his offensive game in order, then it is going to continue to be lean times for this Kings offense.
Jonathan Quick Needs to Stay Disciplined
The ONLY reason that the Kings are still alive in this playoff series is because of goaltender Jonathan Quick. Granted, they did lose Game 1 because of his misplaying of a puck behind the Los Angeles net, but for the rest of the time, he has been on point and has stayed calm despite an onslaught of pressure by the Blues forwards.
Game 3 got extremely chippy between the two teams, with both sides racking up hits and penalties in the process. There will certainly be more festivities in this game, and so the Kings will need Quick to remain poised in the net. If he gives in and starts throwing haymakers at someone who invades the crease, the odds are that the officials will try to keep a tight rein on the game and start issuing minor penalties, and that is not something that the Kings need in a series in which they have struggled to score goals.