The Los Angeles Kings defeated the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Friday night at the Staples Center to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Dustin Penner’s buzzer-beating goal with 0.2 seconds left in the second period proved to be the difference in the game, and goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 21 shots to help his team to the victory.
It certainly was not easy for the Kings to get to that point. Even though they had the lead on the scoreboard, the Blues were consistently the dominant team in all areas of the ice throughout the hockey game. They were winning battles in the corners, skating with ease through the neutral zone, and getting plenty of opportunities that they simply were not able to put home.
Most of that had to do with the stellar goaltending of Quick, but there was also a degree of luck involved, and that was at no time more apparent than when Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s shot went off the crossbar in the closing seconds of the hockey game.
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The Kings also did a great job of playing responsible defense despite the desperation-fueled speed with which the Blues were playing the game. They managed to cut off passing lanes, force skaters to the outside edges of the ice, and were able to do so without racking up the tripping and interference penalties that you will often see teams take when they are being outskated.
That defense was on full display with two minutes left in the game, as the Blues were trying to push the puck in deep to get goaltender Brian Elliott off the ice for the extra attacker. For over a minute, the Kings were clogging up the neutral zone and punching the puck back into St. Louis ice, with Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar doing most of the dirty work in that department. The Blues were visibly frustrated during that stretch, and that extra minute and change that they weren’t able to get set up in the offensive zone definitely hindered their chances.
For now, the Kings will wait and see who their opponent in the second round will be, and it’s all contingent on the winner of Sunday night’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings at the Honda Center. If the Ducks win, then the Kings will open the second round on the road against the Ducks next week, but if the Wings win, then the Kings will open the second round on home ice against the San Jose Sharks, with the Wings taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City.