LOS ANGELES -- Years from now, Los Angeles Kings fans will fondly recall the 53-foot goal Dustin Penner scored just ahead of the buzzer ending the second period of Game 6 of the first round of the playoffs against the St. Louis Blues Friday.
But for now, anyway, Penner's staggering shot past Brian Elliott is the goal that broke the Blues' back, sent the Kings into the Western Conference semifinals with a 2-1 victory and perhaps awakened the sleeping giant that is the defending Stanley Cup champions.
And all because one of mighty flick of the wrist by Penner as the final seconds ticked off the second-period clock.
Penner, situated just a few feet inside the blue line, fired the shot with just over a second remaining and it somehow got through Elliott's legs and crossed the red line with 0.2 on the clock.
"It was a fortunate break for us," Penner said, in an understatement.
And a timely one at that.
"The bench was yelling shoot, so I knew I didn't have much time," Penner said. "I just had to put everything into it."
That he did.
To say it was a back-breaking goal to the Blues is an understatement, as they outplayed the Kings for most of the period and were a couple of brilliant Jonathan Quick saves away from taking the lead themselves.
As it is, they quietly made their way to the locker room shocked and in disbelief at trailing 2-1.
And with Quick continuing his stellar play in goal in the third, the lead stood up and the Kings were on their way to the second round after a physical, exhausting six-game series in which all six wins were decided by just one goal.
The Kings took a 1-0 lead 12:37 into the first period on a slap shot by Drew Doughty.
That lead held up until the 4:39 mark of the second period when Chris Porter's deflected shot beat Quick to make it 1-1.
And then Penner took matters into his own hands with time expiring in the second and a trip to the second round hanging in the balance.
NOTES: Kings' forward Kyle Clifford did not participate in the morning skate Friday, and when coach Darryl Sutter was asked about it a Sutter-like comedy act unfolded: "He was out there. He gets here before you guys," Sutter deadpanned. "Then he did a Geico commercial. Then he was doing the weather for Channel 4 this morning, up in the helicopter." After all that, Sutter got serious: "He had a maintenance day." Sutter explained. Perhaps, but Clifford was not on the ice for pregame warm-ups and was officially scratched in favor of Jordan Nolan. ... The Kings had won three straight games heading into Game 6 -- in the process climbing out of an 0-2 hole to take a 3-2 lead -- but all three games were decided by just one goal, a fact that wasn't lost on the Blues as they prepared to keep their season alive. " We're still positive," St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman said. "We still feel we have a very good team that can skate with L.A. We've got to continue to wear them down, go into L.A. and continue to do the little things."