The St. Louis Blues have become the first team in the playoff semifinals to face the threat of elimination. Following a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, they are now 0-3 in the series and absolutely need a Game 4 win so they can play another day.
In sharp contrast to Game 2 of this series, though, the Blues did not find themselves down a goal very quickly in the first period. That took about 13 minutes to happen this time. They were able to hold the Kings to just one shot in their first power play chance early in the first, attempted to sustain pressure and Mike Richards fought Jamie Langenbrunner. But then Justin Williams found the back of the net and shifted the tone of things.
Speaking of power plays, to me the Blues acted similarly to the Bruins in one certain aspect here: an anemic power play. Given two different man advantages, they converted on neither, and their second power play began with the puck immediately being cleared down the ice. They did give the Kings five chances to put away a power play goal, though, probably due in part to mounting frustration--and Richards took advantage of the man advantage midway through the second period.
Another similarity I saw to the Bruins was in the Blues' inability to hold a lead, or a tie in this case. When they knotted up the game at one apiece, not even a minute passed before the Kings untied it again on a Dwight King goal. Chris Stewart, who was out of the lineup for Game 2, provided both of the St. Louis goals (one in the second period and one in the third) and almost had one more. Like Stewart, another Blues player who was out for the last game and back in this one was Alex Pietrangelo. However, his return didn't galvanize the team to victory.
In this game, the Blues seemed alternately frustrated and disconnected, though sometimes they showed short bursts of life, like on Stewart's goals and a few other sustained sieges in front of Jonathan Quick. The frustration may have been most evident when, at one point, Brian Elliott attempted to play the puck and sent it over the glass instead.
Elliott will probably also want that Drew Doughty goal back, the one that trickled practically in slow motion between his legs and into the net, but that was a mistake on pretty much everyone's parts. The Blues' defensemen had their backs turned to Elliott at the time, reminding me of times when the Bruins' defense was asleep at the wheel.
Something just has to give in Game 4 if the Blues want to go any further into the postseason. They're being outplayed, taking silly penalties and letting the frustration show when things aren't going right. They have until May 6 at 3 p.m. (NBC) to try to figure out what they need to do in the next meeting. With their backs against the wall, will they stave off elimination--or be consumed by more mistakes?