The title says it all.
The Kings battled. Tempers flared and fists flew. They took their licks and gave some back. However in the end, an inspiring and brutally hostile game by the St Louis Blues won out over the Los Angeles Kings in a struggle that could have gone either way.
It started out less than perfect with the Blues controlling the majority of the first period, immediately showcasing their uptempo determination to win pucks and fray nerves. Still, our boys managed to score the games first goal on the powerplay. With 3 minutes left, Jack Johnson walked in from the boards to the right point and fired a mean slapper past Ty Conklin. The goal was later credited to Ryan Smyth, who must have caught the puck with the very tip of his waving stick. The Kings first lead of the game did not last long. Jay McClement scored on a scramble less than two minutes later. Quick was a split second behind when a hard stick to the chest by Drew Doughty instantaneously distracted the goalie.
The second period was wild.
Two minutes into the frame the Kings go up on at the tail end of a 5-on-3 powerplay when after some tic some tac and almost more toe than I could bear, Anze Kopitar blasted a slap shot between two crossing Blues defenders and by Conklin’s left shoulder. Then the Blues took over. Vladmir Sobotka… before I continue, is that last name even allowed? I love it, but Sobotka sounds like a name for a drunken tug boat in a Slavic children cartoon… so this Sobotka guy started a tear that earned him the games’ 2nd star, matching Kopitar with a goal and two assists. While being pushed by Drew Doughty, Sobotka corralled the puck not two feet in front of Quick and roofed the perfect shot. Quick was a little late, again, this time because he lost track of the puck behind the net. I don’t blame him, so did I.
From there the Blues took a 3-1 lead on goals by Brad Winchester and Eric Brewer. Winchester on a tip Quick could do nothing about even if Doughty could have, and Brewer on a heads up slap shot after a clean face-off win. An impromptu line change that saw Ponikarovsky demoted to the 4th line alongside Oscar Moller and Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford bumped up to play with Zus and Simmonds, resulted in a goal from the latter trio just 40 some seconds after Brewer’s goal. Clifford made a strong play behind the net, fed Zus who moved it out front to Conklin’s left, then Kyle got a stick on a loose puck that gloriously drifted to Simmonds. All alone Wayne swept a shot by the goalie in motion. I immediately said to myself we would tie the game and a few minutes later, Brown did just that, jumping on a rebound off a deflected shot by Scuderi.
The third period was a war.
The Kings controlled it. They wanted it. They just couldn’t put the puck on net. With nary time to whizz left in the game, Alex Steen sent a shot by Quick that some might consider soft. Ish. Though there was no traffic on the shot and Quick had just barely enough time to get set, the shot was dirty, to the top shelf off a quick drop pass at the end of a brilliant end to end unit rush by the Blues. From there, the game got a bit ugly. Clifford took a roughing penalty after David Backes sent Johnson to the ice in a heap of crap. Speaking of crap, the penalty was as smelly as they come. Clifford’s odor must have so offended the referee that even though nothing on camera really shows Clifford doing anything different than the other 3 players in the scrum, Mr Black and White had to send someone to the box. I guess there is some sense in sending off the guy who looks like he may just bite your head off and fart you out. Backes made it 6-4 into an empty net on the ensuing power play.
The game seemingly over, Jack Johnson decided there was one more kind of game left to play. He slashed Steen, not once, but twice. Steen stumbled, sent Jack flying and when he got up, Steen and two other Blues mugged Johnson. Williams in a display of a game misconduct worthy infraction that makes me proud, lept in the air and onto the backs of two Blues players in what resembled a high school brawl.
The Kings had chances. The goaltending wasn’t quite there, though not poor. The powerplay clicked and the D played as well as they can without the steady Mitchell. The Blues energy just squeaked out over the Kings.
Positives to take away are the powerplay’s solid performance, Clifford’s developing game and a nice fight with Tyson Strachan, Kopitar’s 3 points, Jack and Drew putting up some characteristic points and the team showing an unwavering desire to stand up for each other.
I can live with this loss.
On to Bernier in Nashville.
Always and forever,
GO KINGS GO!