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 NHL playoffs, the Kings leaned hard again on goalie Jonathan Quick and got just enough offense to beat the Blues 1-0 on Saturday night in Game 3 at Staples Center.
The Kings 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.
"We did what we had to do to win a game," Quick said. "Everybody worked hard. PK came up and stepped up and played a huge role in that game. The first two games were pretty similar to that game except we had more goals than them this time, so going to keep working."
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 the series.
On Saturday, Quick was his normally brilliant self, turning away 30 shots by the Blues to complete the shutout.
And that was critical.
"They were just throwing pucks from everywhere. I think it makes it seem like there's more pressure than there really is and we handled it well," Quick said. "We cleared out rebounds when they were there and Slava got a big goal for us, just a hard-fought win. It's what you expect when these two teams play each other."
These teams are nothing if not evenly matched, a fact played out in two 2-1 wins for the Blues to put the Kings in the 2-0 hole.
On Saturday night, the Blues learned what it felt like to be on the short end of an evenly played game.
"I mean, this is, we knew what we were in for. I'm sure they felt that they probably deserved Game 2, and we probably thought that we deserved Game 3," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "So the series is at where it is at, it's probably accurate where it is at right now, it is a hell of a battle and it won't be any different on Monday.
"There is not much difference between the two teams, both goalies are on top of their game; our guy was great again tonight, their guy was a little bit better. For us, we have to find a way to take advantage, especially on the road you're not going to get very many games like this where you get this many quality chances."
The Kings still could not mount a consistent attack against Elliott, which made for some fretful moments. But with Quick and the defense playing brilliantly, the Kings managed to piece together a near season-saving victory.
Thanks to Slava Voynov, 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.
"Well, it was bouncing around. I didn't even know where the puck was. I had my back to it and there was a fight for the puck and it ended up working for them," St. Louis defenseman Jordan Leopold said. "That's how you score goals, you go to the net and you dig and you grind. We definitely had our opportunities tonight. It's a matter of burying them. We knew it's going to be a long series."
It was the first five-on-five goal for the Kings in the series and only their third goal of the playoffs -- a testament to their struggles finding the net.
"They limited us pretty well, we get some opportunities on the breakaway and we had a couple of really good chances," Kings forward Dustin Brown said. "Again, we have to find ways to score more than one goal."
The Kings knew the importance of the game 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 through the years.
Thanks to Quick -- and the presence of Voynov -- the Kings are in much better position to reverse that trend.
NOTES: The Kings are surprised to be down 2-0 against the Blues, but they expected a return home to Staples Center to have the necessary impact. They won their last seven games at home to end the regular 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," Brown said. "We've got to take care of our home ice." ... One way the Kings could get going is to get Anze Kopitar going, although he hasn't scored a goal since March 25 and has just one assist in the series. ... Hitchcock wonders about claims that the ice surface at Staples Center is "way smaller" than 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."