St. Louis, MO – Jonathan Quick continues to steal games for the Los Angeles Kings.
The Vezina Trophy candidate stopped 28 shots to help the Kings take a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of this Western Conference semifinal series.
Quick posted a 1.59 goals against average and a .953 save percentage in a five-game victory over the top-seeded Canucks in the opening round and was again on his game on Saturday as he stopped eight shots in the third with his team holding on to a one-goal lead.
Dustin Penner posted a goal and an assist while Matt Greene and Slava Voynov each tallied a goal for Los Angeles, which is in the semifinals for the first time since 2001.
David Backes scored the only goal while Brian Elliott stopped 26 shots in the loss for the Blues, who defeated San Jose in five games for its first playoff series victory since 2002.
"We need much better play from our top players, much more committed play from our top players, if we expect to move on and win a hockey game on Monday," said St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock.
Game 2 of this best-of-seven series is on Monday in St. Louis.
Quick was sharp early on as he stopped a couple of chances from Andy McDonald down low, including a right pad save on a rebound stop less than a minute in.
Mike Richards was called for cross checking during the play, but LA escaped as St. Louis was unable to cash in on the man advantage.
The Blues, though, did take the first lead of the game at the 9:16 mark of the second when Alex Pietrangelo sent a shot on net from the right point that Backes tipped past Quick for his second of the playoffs.
"You expect a team to come out flying the first ten minutes on home ice like that," said Quick. "This team is no different, obviously. They're one of the best teams on home ice for a reason. That first ten minutes shows you probably why. They really kind of put us on our heels for a little bit."
Los Angeles answered with 3:02 to play in the first period as Dustin Penner skated the puck from the left boards to the low left side and sent a crisp pass back the other way where Voynov one-timed it home.
The second period nearly passed scoreless, but the Kings took the lead while shorthanded.
With Dwight King in the box for boarding, Dustin Brown, who scored two shorthanded goals in the opening round, skated into the St. Louis zone down the right wing. He got to the net and put a shot on that Elliott stopped, but the rebound sat there and Greene was able to lift it home with 1:03 to play in the second.
"The difference is the special teams, you just thought it would be a little bit different than that," said Backes. "Giving up a shorthanded goal at the end of the second there was not ideal by any means. We kind of took a rest and they stayed going and that's the result."
St. Louis kept shooting itself in the foot in the third period, as the team was whistled three times, including a high-sticking double minor to T.J. Oshie at the 6:23 mark. Los Angeles didn't get an insurance goal on any of them, but it did keep the pressure off of Quick.
When he was called upon, though, he answered as he made a tough stop on Scott Nichol late in the third and Penner cashed in on the empty net in the final seconds to seal the win.
This is the third time these teams are meeting in the playoffs. The Blues swept the previous two series in 1998 and 1969...Los Angeles is 4-0 on the road in these playoffs...It was only the second shorthanded goal by a defenseman in Kings' playoff history. The other came from Rob Blake in 1993...The Kings went 0-for-5 on the power play while the Blues were 0- for-3...The call against King was a result of a hit on Pietrangelo, who left the game after his head hit the boards.