By Dan O'Neill in St. Louis
Forgive the Kings if they're not thrilled to be heading home two games into the NH L's Western Conference semifinals. It's not that they don't enjoy the friendly confines of their Los Angeles home. They're just having so much fun on the road.
"Great wins on the road," said centre Anze Kopitar. "We've been in this position before, the series before. Now again we have to refocus. Nothing is done yet. They have a good team and I'm sure if we let them off the hook they can do some damage too. We just want to refocus again and take care of business at home and we'll see what happens."
The Kings' travel party continued on Monday as they rolled over the Blues in Game 2, skating to a victory that a 5-2 score didn't do justice. The visitors carried a 4-0 lead in the dressing room after the first 20 minutes. Game, set, and maybe series.
The impressive performance against a stingy defensive team was the fifth consecutive road success for the Kings in this postseason. They captured three games from the Canute in Vancouver and now lead the Blues 2-0 after taking the first two of Round Two in St. Louis.
Kopitar played a lead role, scoring a shorthanded goal that gave Los Angeles a crowd-muffling 2-0 lead less than six minutes into the first period. Pituitary scored again 17 seconds before the first intermission. The last team to start 5-0 on the road in the NHL playoffs was the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. Not so fast, Kopitar warned.
"There's a lot of work left to be done so, again, we'll definitely take the position we're in right now," Kopitar said. "But we all realize they're a good team and they're not going to go away easily."
Los Angles is 1-1 at Staples Center in these playoffs, by comparison nothing to write home about. But a 2-0 lead in the series, against a team that won 30 home games at Scottrade Center, helps ease the burden.
"I guess you could say I was role playing as if I was in their position, losing their first game at home," Kings forward Dustin Penner said. "That was exactly my thought process, 'We can't go down 2-0.' And we talked about that before the game. We said we had a great opportunity in front of us. It's only one game but an opportunity to really put the pressure on them.
"And we're going to come in with the same focus in Game 3, not going to rest and say, 'Good job, we won two games in St. Louis.' They could easily (come back), and its been done before. They could come into our building and win two, so we're going to have to wrap it up and be even more intense in Game 3."
The Blues were without standout defenceman Alex Pietrangelo in Game 2. Pietrangelo skated with the team during a morning practice, but he was unable to make the starting lineup. Pietrangelo is nursing an undisclosed injury, the result of being pushed head first into the boards by LA forward Dwight King in the second period of Game 2. His status for Game 3 is uncertain.
The Blues did not respond well to the loss of their blue line leader. Ian Cole, a 23-year old defenceman took Pietrangelo's place in the lineup, making his postseason debut. Cole has 52 NHL games on his resume over the past two NHL seasons. He now has one humbling playoff loss to go with it.
"It's disappointing," said Cole, who played more than eight minutes and was even in plus-minus. "I was excited to play. It was exciting, a great atmosphere out there. The fans were fantastic. We just didn't step up."
Cole said the two early Los Angeles goals popped the Blues emotional bubble. The Kings now have two shorthanded goals in the series, four in the playoffs overall.
"It was about how you respond to that first goal they scored on the first shift, and we didn't respond well at all," Cole added. "No matter how good of a start you're looking to have, you get two goals scored on you early like we did tonight and it takes a lot of wind out of your sails."
Dan O'Neill reports for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @wwdod
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