ST. LOUIS -- A double-minor penalty in overtime of an NHL playoff game normally is hard to overcome, but that was exactly what the St. Louis Blues did on Tuesday night in the opening game of their series against the Los Angeles Kings
Just 41 seconds after Kevin Shattenkirk
was assessed that penalty for hitting Dustin Penner with a high stick, Alexander Steen scored his second goal at 13:26 of overtime to give the Blues a 2-1 victory.
"The hockey gods took care of us today," said St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock. "Waking up tomorrow would have been a challenge if we didn't win the hockey game."
The reason for Hitchcock's comment was the fact the Blues were only 31.6 seconds away from a 1-0 win in regulation before the Kings, after pulling goalie Jonathan Quick, tied the game on a shot by Justin Williams that hit off a St. Louis stick and deflected over his shoulder and into the net.
The goal energized the Kings and seemed to take something away from the Blues as the two teams began the overtime, the reverse of what had happened for the first 59 minutes of the game. When Shattenkirk was assessed the penalty, it seemed all but certain the Kings were headed to a victory.
"It's such an emotional swing, from figuring who is going to kill a four-minute penalty and the next thing you know the game is over," Hitchcock said.
The winning goal developed as Quick was caught behind his own net, trying to clear the puck, and Steen was able to hit the puck with his stick, with it winding up in the net.
"I got fortunate behind the net there," Steen said. "It hit my stick and it went in."
Said Quick, "It's exactly what it looked like. I tried to make a play. He blocked it and scored. You don't have an option to the left and you try to force it and I tried to give my d-men a little more time with the puck. I tried to make a good decision and he got a stick on it."
The win was the first playoff overtime victory for the Blues since 2001 and also broke an eight-game losing streak by the Blues against Los Angeles, including four straight losses to the Kings in the second round of their playoff run to the Stanley Cup last year.
Until the tying goal, the Blues dominated the game, outshooting the Kings 36-19 through regulation but could only score the one goal against Quick, a power-play goal from Steen in the first period.
The Blues, who won their final six home games in the regular season to clinch home-ice advantage in this round, came out flying at the start of the game. They outshot the Kings 14-5 in the first period and registered 13 hits to eight for Los Angeles. They scored the only goal of the period at 9:05 when Steen was set up by Shattenkirk on a power play.
The goal came while the Kings' Trevor Lewis was serving a minor penalty for delay of game.
"They came out exactly as you expected them to," said Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter. "They played a work and speed game and we had a handful of guys who were not ready for that part of it. Quick played a great game. It was kind of ironic that the two best players on the ice were in on the goal."
As important as the first win is for the Blues, Hitchcock has been around long enough to not look at it as being more than it is.
"It would have been a shame not to win," Hitchcock said, "but when you are the defending champion you can't just knock them off, you're going to have to stick a pretty big nail in them. We're just getting started in this series."
NOTES: The Blues' last victory against Los Angeles came Feb. 3, 2012, a 1-0 win in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak in goal. ... St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester played in his first playoff game after 764 regular-season games, the most without a playoff appearance by a current NHL player. ... Among the pregame scratches were Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene, out with an undisclosed injury, and St. Louis rookie forward Vladimir Tarasenko. ... Tarasenko was replaced in the lineup by T.J. Oshie, who had missed the Blues' last 15 games with an ankle injury. He last played on March 28, when the Blues lost 4-2 to the Kings. ... The second game of the series will be played Thursday night in St. Louis.
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