LOS ANGELES -- Much like the first two games of the Western Conference quarter-finals, Game 3 between the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings was a toss-up.
But when they play at home this year, toss-ups usually go to the Kings.
L.A. was a NHL-best 19-4-1 at home during the regular season. They're 20-4-1 now after holding on to a 1-0 victory
over the Blues Saturday night.
"I think it's great hockey," Kings forward Justin Williams said, "because you can't take a shift off. You take a shift off and it could be the difference in the game. Your mind needs to be ready every time you're on the ice. Little plays turn into big plays. And we got a lot of big plays from our goalie tonight."
Goaltender Jonathan Quick turned aside all 30 Blues shots, some of them of the "can't miss" variety. With Quick up to his tricks, the Blues also went 0-for-4 on the power play.
"I think the PK really got us a win there," Quick said. "It was huge all night. We did a good job disrupting their entries and, a lot of times, not giving them a chance to set up. Guys were great at blocking shots...it's what we're going to have to do."
The Kings haven't lost in their building since dropping a 2-0 outcome to Dallas on March 23.
Testing their resolve
The Kings are 1-10 in previous playoff series in which they trailed 2-0. As Williams said, the last thing they wanted to do was test their resolve down 3-0.
"There's no secret that no team has come back from a 3-0 deficit, that's cut and dried," Williams said. "This was a game we needed to have. Game 4 is going to be the same, We don't want to go back there down 3-1. We wanted to put some pressure on them and see what happens."
There was some interesting bookkeeping going on at Staples Center. The teams were credited with combining for 92 hits in the game. The Kings registered 53 of those, including a hard-to-believe 29 in the first period.
No word on whether either team was credited for hitting the showers after the game.
For the second game in succession, L.A. struck first. In the midst of a prolonged scramble in front of the Blues' net, the puck squeezed loose to forward Slava Voynov. He fired it into the scrum and somehow it found its way to the back of the Blues' net in the first period.
It was the first 5-on-5 goal of the series for the Kings and it was not pretty. But it was just what they were looking for.
"If you look at the series, 5-on-5 is so tough," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "There are a lot of little battles going on that only the players appreciate or understand. Your top guys can't get frustrated and start playing their own individual game. The two teams are very even. Gave up the fewest shots in the conference, one and two. Both goaltenders, everybody understands who they are and what they are.
"There are several scrums around the goaltenders and if the puck's not frozen then that's their job [the officials] not to lose sight of it. We've seen it both ways in the series."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was not discouraged by his team's effort.
"I thought we did a lot of good things," Hitchcock said. "We created a lot of turnovers, but we didn't sustain the pressure. We got a lot of good original shots. I'm not sure we got as many second and third shots as we're going to need to outwork [Quick]."
There have been a total of six regulations goals scored in the three games, three by each team.
"I'm sure they probably felt like they deserved Game 2; we probably thought we deserved Game 3," Hitchcock added. "So the series is probably accurate where it's at right now. It is a hell of a battle and will be again on Monday.
"I thought more than anything today we were unlucky. There's some days where the goalie outworks you and he out-battles you, but today I thought we were unlucky."
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