Dustin Penner’s goal with .2 seconds remaining in the second period turned out to be the game winner, sending the Los Angeles Kings to the Western Conference Semifinals with a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 on Friday night.
Drew Doughty scored in the first period and Jonathan Quick had another stellar game with 21 saves, as the defending champs won their 10th in a row on home ice.
The Blues took the first two games of the series, but the Kings answered with four consecutive wins, effectively eliminating their first round opponent for the second straight year.
Los Angeles took an early 1-0 lead when Doughty scored his first of the playoffs at 12:37 of the opening period. After controlling a drop pass from teammate Colin Fraser, Doughty walked in and beat Brian Elliott with a wrist shot for his tenth career postseason goal.
The Blues tied the game shortly after their only power-play opportunity of the night ended without success. Chris Porter got his stick on a shot from Roman Polak just enough to deflect it past Quick at 4:39 of the second period. It was Porter’s first career playoff goal, after he made his postseason debut in Game 1.
For St. Louis, the feeling is likely similar to what they experienced last year after losing for the eighth time in their last 10 postseason games against Los Angeles, including a four-game sweep in the second round last spring.
“What I’m going to tell them is its not good enough,” said Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock. If you want to be a champion, it’s not good enough. You can’t allow the goalie to outwork you. If you want to be a champion you’re going to have to find a way.”
Los Angeles has taken 14 of its last 16 meetings with St. Louis overall dating back to the 2011-12 regular season.
The Kings went ahead for good when Penner pulled the trigger on a long slap shot from just inside the blue line that somehow found its way into the net before the second-period clock expired. It was Penner’s second goal of the series, matching his 33-game regular-season output.
“It was a fortunate break for us,” Penner said. “The bench was yelling to shoot, so I knew I didn’t have much time and I just tried to put everything into it.”
Quick was tested in the third period but came up big in stopping all eight of the Blues’ shots to keep his team ahead. The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner posted a 1.58 GAA, and .944 SV% in six first-round games.
“[Quick] always rises to the occasion, he’s an unbelievable goalie,” Doughty said. “I still think he’s undervalued, he’s unbelievable. At these times when we need him he’s always there to save our butts.”
The Kings will now await the finish of the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks Western Conference Quarterfinal series to see who they’ll match up with next. If the No. 2 seeded Ducks prevail, the Kings would play their Southern California rivals in the second round. If the Red Wings should advance, the Kings would then face the No. 6 seeded San Jose Sharks.
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