By Dan O'Neill in Los Angeles
The St. Louis Blues took Tuesday off to travel, lick wounds and ponder ways to get back into the Western Conference semifinals.
After dispatching the Blues 5-2
on Monday, the Los Angeles Kings lead the series 2-0, with Game 3 scheduled for Staples Center on Thursday night.
The Blues have to hope the extended time between starts will help heal Alex Pietrangelo. The Blues' defensive quarterback missed Monday's lopsided loss with a lower-body injury. Pietrangelo was able to skate with the team in practice on Monday morning, but he was deemed unavailable at game time.
"He's day-to-day," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He tried it [Monday] and he's still sore. It's a big hole. Not a lot different if [LA] lost [Drew] Doughty.
"But I think with a full two days off, hopefully he's good to go [Thursday]. Unfortunately he couldn't play [Monday]. But we need him back in the lineup."
The Blues will have no such luck with goaltender Jaroslav Halak. He has been declared out for the rest of the series, the result of an ankle injury he sustained in a collision with defenceman Barret Jackman. The incident occurred on April 14 in Game 2 of the San Jose series.
In Halak's absence, Brian Elliott started his fifth straight post-season game on Monday. After yielding five goals to the Kings in Game 2, his post-season goals-against average spiked to 2.14.Taking nothing for granted
The Kings are now 5-0 on the road during this post-season. Centre Anze Kopitar, who had two first-period goals in Game 2, said his team is excited but taking nothing for granted.
"It's huge," Kopitar said of the wins in St. Louis. "Every time you can squeeze a win on the road it's huge and getting two especially was big because they're such a good home team. Now we have to take care of business at home. We have to re-focus and play the same kind of game."
On the flipside, Hitchcock's Blues were 2-0 on the road during their series win over the San Jose Sharks. The Blues are hoping to clone the Kings' approach and break serve in Los Angeles.
"Our job right now is to get this thing back to our fans here," Hitchcock said. "So we've got to win one of the next two games to get it back here. We've played awful well on the road in the playoffs. It's only one loss. It doesn't feel good right now.
"The way we played on the power play doesn't feel good. But we've got two days to regroup here and put our best foot forward. All you can do is ask for your best. [Monday] wasn't our best ... and we need to make amends for ourselves."Shorthanded success
Dustin Penner has four shorthanded points during the playoffs. The last time an NHL player had four shorthanded points in a playoff season was when Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg had five in 2008. Zetterberg had two goals and three assists while playing shorthanded.
Penner was asked if he saw similarities with the Kings' previous series, when they won the first two games in Vancouver and led 2-0. The Kings wrapped it up in five.
"The similarity is our power play hasn't played that well," Penner said. "We actually have to remedy that in a hurry. We had a good opportunity in the first 30 minutes of [Game 2] to gain confidence on the power play for the next couple of games. With a couple of days off we're going to have to figure that out.
"Our penalty kill has been great like it was in Vancouver. [Jonathan Quick] has been great and we've been able to adjust to the other team's system and just be opportunistic."Clean hit
Midway through the third period of Game 2, Blues winger T. J. Oshie, No. 74, knocked the bruising Penner flying with a clean hit behind the Kings' net. A scrum ensued, as Mike Richards took exception and engaged Oshie.
But moments after the game, Penner gave Oshie a compliment on Twitter, tweeting "Anybody catch the license plate of that truck? I think it starts with a 7..."
Oshie, who tied David Backes for the Blues lead in scoring, still is without a goal in the playoffs, spanning 11 career games.
"I think I was trying to give myself life," Oshie said of the hit. "That's the first big hit I've had, I think. I need to be more physical. It's a staple that's in my game and it wasn't there in the first period and it needs to be there from here on out."
Dan O'Neill reports for the St. Louis-Post Dispatch. Follow him @wwdod.
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