LOS ANGELES -- Same teams.
Same close, low-scoring, hard-fought game.
But for the Los Angeles Kings, a very different ending.
And perhaps a new lease on life.
Facing an almost impossible fate with the prospect of another loss and an 0-3 hole against the St. Louis Blues in the opening round of the playoffs, the Kings leaned hard again on goalie Jonathan Quick and got just enough offense to beat the Blues 1-0 Saturday night at Staples Center.
They staved off an almost certain end to their playoff lives, nudging a bit closer to the Blues in this best-of-seven series and building momentum toward Game 4 in Los Angeles on Monday.
Quick has been tremendous so far in this series but had no wins to show for it before Saturday -- limited the first two games only by his inability to score goals himself.
And with his offense having difficulties scoring against St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott, not only was that a problem, it's the reason the Kings found themselves down 2-0 in this series.
On Saturday he was his normally brilliant self, turning away 30 shots by the Blues to complete the shutout.
And that was critical.
These teams are nothing if not evenly matched, a fact played out in a pair of 2-1 wins for the Blues to put the Kings in the 2-0 hole.
The Kings still could not mount a consistent attack on Elliott on Saturday, which made for some fretful moments at Staples Center. But, with Quick and their defense playing brilliantly, they managed to piece together a near season-saving victory.
Thanks to Slava Yoynov, who put the Kings up 1-0 in the second period with his first goal of the playoffs. He hung in the background during a scrum at the net and then fired a shot past Elliott on assists by Alec Martinez and Trevor Lewis.
It was the first five-on-five goal for the Kings in this series and only their third goal of the playoffs -- a testament to their struggles finding the net.
The Kings knew the importance of the evening and didn't need to be reminded how NHL teams that lost the first two games of series went on to lose 280 of 323 times over the years.
Thanks to Quick -- and the presence of Yoynov -- the Kings are in much better position to reverse that trend.
They still face an uphill battle, but their climb got a bit easier Saturday.
NOTES: The Kings won their last seven games at home to end the season and were a league-best 19-4-1 in Los Angeles. In addition, they were 16-4 at Staples Center during their memorable skate to the Stanley Cup championship in 2012. "We've played really well at home this year," Kings center Dustin Brown said. "We've got to take care of our home ice." ... One way the Kings can get going is to get Anze Kopitar going; he hasn't scored a goal since March 25 and has just one assist in the series. ... Blues coach Ken Hitchcock claims the ice surface at Staples Center is "way smaller" compared to other arenas and it affects the game. Hitchcock said the Blues made adjustments to deal with the difference and it helped them beat the Kings 6-4 on March 5 at Staples Center. "It's such a different game here, with the smaller ice surface; it's such a different game," Hitchcock said. "So I think we made changes the last game we played in this building, and hopefully we can continue to make those changes and play 60 minutes."