LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Kings finished off the Blues in a manner that was typical of the Western Conference quarter-final series, beating the visiting team 2-1 at Staples Center. All six games in the series were decided by one goal.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter couldn't remember a closer competition. There was little to choose between the team moving on and the team going home.
"There wasn't much flow in the series quite honest," Sutter said. "It was so close. It was always one goal, other than the 2-0 lead here for St. Louis the last game. It was always shift-to-shift competition the whole way."
That said, Sutter gave his team high marks for coming back. The Kings were down 0-2 in the series when they came back to LA. They then fell behind 0-2 in Game 4 before rallying for a 4-3 win to even the series.
"It's not easy to come from down 0-2," Sutter said. "You know, not many teams will do it. That's the best part about our team. It didn't matter if we were up two-nothing or down two-nothing. We still have the mindset about the next game."
Beat the clock
Dustin Penner's goal at the end of the second period wound being the difference. It also was a stunner. The Blues were getting the best of the play as the second period was ending.
But Penner walked across the blue line and slapped a shot that beat Elliott a fraction of a second before the buzzer sounded. The shot ticked off defenceman Roman Polak's stick.
"It was a fortunate break, turnover in the neutral zone, Scuderi handed it up to me and I cut to my wing and I heard the bench yell 'shoot,'" Penner said. "It's pretty simple after that and I think just went off I think Polak's stick."
"The timing? No, I don't think I've ever scored with 0.2 second left or whatever it was. I'll take it."
Penner has five career playoff goals for the Kings, three of them are game-winners.Port of call
Chris Porter finally was in the right place at the right time. With the Blues trailing 1-0 early in the second period, Porter flashed to the front of the Kings goal just as Polak was unloading from the point. The shot hit Porter in the leg and re-directed past Jonathan Quick to tie the game four minutes and 39 seconds into the second period.
"We had a good shift going," Porter said. "We were putting pressure on them. Roman let a good shot go and I jut went to the net. It hit me in the leg and went in. At the time, it felt great."
Both Polak and David Backes got assists on the first playoff goal of Porter's career. Unfortunately, Porter's heroics didn't hold up. A fraction of a second before the second period ended, Penner beat goaltender Brian Elliott with his shocker that re-instated the Kings' one-goal margin, 2-1.
Not surprisingly in this series, the one-goal lead held up.
Still, it was a crowning moment for Porter. He was the last man out when the Blues set their roster for the season. But Porter didn't sulk. He went to the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Peoria and played well, getting seven goals in 12 games. He scored had two goals and six assists for the Blues during the regular season. But his skating and harassment abilities are his forte.
A solid plus-5 during the season, the 28-year old Porter had 26 hits in the series, second on the Blues to Vladimir Sobotka. One thing seems certain, with the emergence of the fourth line late in the season, with Porter's performance during the playoffs, the University of North Dakota product finally may have won a job.
"It's kind of hard to think about now," Porter said. "But I felt like played well. Hopefully I showed them enough that they'll want me back."
Last year, the Blues were swept in four games by the Kings in the second round of the playoffs. This time, the Notes won two games. But they got swept again, at the other end, as the Kings won the last four.
"It's frustrating, even more frustrating when the difference between the teams was so small," Blues captain David Backes. "We were close, but you know what they about close, that only counts in horse shoes. It's tough to swallow."
Forward T. J. Oshie echoed the sentiments.
"I think that's the consensus in here, that we deserved possibly to play a Game 7," Oshie said. "Talking before the playoffs, and then after the first two games, we thought that this would be the year.
"We were playing well. We weren't letting them push out, we were pushing back. But we just let them score more goals than we did."
The Blues out-shot the Kings 22-16 on Friday.
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