As they began the third period of Game 4 of their Western Conference quarter-finals match with the Blues, the Kings realized they were in a precarious situation. They trailed in the game, 3-2, and in the series, 2-1.
LOS ANGELES - As they began the third period of Game 4 of their Western Conference quarter-finals match with the Blues, the Kings realized they were in a precarious situation. They trailed in the game, 3-2, and in the series, 2-1.
"Not much needs to be said," Kings centre Justin Williams explained. "We're an experienced team. We've been through a lot. We needed a response.
"We're down a goal and facing a daunting task going St. Louis down 3-1. But we found it in ourselves to get a couple of big goals and it resulted in a big win."
The Kings turned the tables, getting goals from Anze Kopitar and Williams 76 seconds apart midway through the third period. Kopitar snapped a 19-game goal-scoring drought with a tap-in to reward great work in the corner by Dustin Brown at 7:14.
Williams tipped Mike Richards' shot from the left side that went in on the far side past Blue goalie Brian Elliott at 8:30.
A 3-2 deficit became a 4-3 win and a whole new series. The teams now return to St. Louis knotted 2-2
Kopitar sparks comeback
The development was especially important for Kopitar. The Kings' offensive lynchpin had almost half a season without a goal. But he converted to tie the score 3-3 and spark the comeback.
"I don't know what it was, 20 or 19, but anytime you're going through a drought ..." Kopitar said. "When you get that one, you feel 100 pounds lighter. So I felt pretty good after that." That said, Kopitar and the Kings know they have plenty of work ahead.
"We're happy we got the win, but we're flying out tomorrow [Tuesday] and we have to get re-focused," he added. Elliott's protest fails
Elliott protested Williams' winning goal, motioning to the officials that Williams had re-directed the shot with a high stick. But Williams knew it would count.
"I was in front of the net, I felt [the stick] was much below my shoulders and, at the same time, it was called a goal on the ice," Williams said. "It's really hard to overturn something in that situation."
The Blues had two leads in the game. They raced out to a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the game, the largest advantage of the series thus far. Goals by David Backes and T. J. Oshie laid the foundation. But the Kings tied it before the period was over.
Oshie scored again in the second and the Blues carried a 3-2 lead into the third. But the truth will set you free. And the truth is, the Kings were having the better of the play. They out-shot the Blues 23-11 over the last two periods.
"I think the third period was just a continuation of the second period," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They took the game to another level and tonight we didn't have an answer."
Odd-man rushes have been few and far between in the series. But the Blues allowed two of them in the first to open the rally door for the Kings.
"We made two really poor mistakes to give them odd-man rushes, to get them get back in the game," Hitchcock added. "But even when it was 3-2, they were playing better than we were. We grabbed it for a little while for seven minutes or so in the third, but we didn't manage the puck very well and we paid for it dearly.
"They took the game today. They were better than we were. They went up in a gear that we're going to have to find an answer for."
The four goals allowed by Elliott was the first game in which he had allowed four goals since April 21 in Colorado.
The Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday welcomed back a couple of former NHL players to the organization in off-ice roles. Dan Lacroix was named assistant coach while Rob Ramage returns to the team as player development coach.
A discimination complaint against the University of New Brunswick over its decision to eliminate varsity women's hockey will proceed after a tribunal rejected Tuesday the school's attempt to have the case thrown out.