LOS ANGELES -- Years from now, Los Angeles Kings fans will fondly recall the 53-foot goal that Dustin Penner scored just ahead of the buzzer ending the second period of Game 6 in the first round of the playoffs against the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
But for now, anyway, Penner's staggering shot past Brian Elliott is the goal that broke the Blues' backs, 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.
The Kings now await the result of the Anaheim Ducks-Detroit Red Wings series that concludes Sunday in Game 7 in Anaheim.
A Ducks win sets up a Kings-Ducks series.
Should Detroit win, the Kings will play the San Jose Sharks.
"I'm going to sit back and watch and see who we play," Kings forward Mike Richards said, "Both teams obviously have world-class players on it and world-class goaltenders, so it's going to be tough either way."
The Kings are just happy to advance after battling back from an 0-2 playoff hole for just the second time in franchise history.
"It's not easy to come from down 0-2. You know, not many teams will do it," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, "That's the best part about our team. It didn't matter if we were up two-nothing or down two-nothing. We still have the mindset about the next game."
And all because one of mighty flick of the wrist by Penner as the final seconds ticked off on 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 after hitting teammate Roman Polak 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, with a big hand from his alert teammates.
"It's a big help. Anytime the bench talks, whether it's heads up for a hit or you got time, chip or things like that, I think there was probably 20 guys and three coaches yelling for me to shoot." Penner said. "They're not going to yell with 10 seconds left.
"Their timing -- someone is looking at the clock at the same time they are looking at me. You got to trust your teammates."
To say it was a backbreaker for the Blues is an understatement, as they outplayed the Kings for most of the period and were a couple of brilliant Jonathan Quick saves from taking the lead themselves.
As it was, the Blues quietly made their way to the locker room shocked and in disbelief while trailing 2-1.
"On the road, a tied game going into the third, you're OK with that knowing that you are sticking around for your chance, but with 0.2 seconds left On that play, you're just kicking yourself," Blues forward David Backes said. "Those are the little things that get magnified and make a difference in playoff hockey."
Elliott, who didn't have time to adjust after the puck hit Polak, said, "I saw it come off because it was going low first. What can you say? You can't put blame on him for trying to get in front of the puck. We're all trying to do our best out there. Obviously, we're all frustrated that had to be the one goal we couldn't get back."
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 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 4:39 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 period and a trip to the second round hanging in the balance.
"I don't think I've ever scored with 0.2 second left or whatever it was," Penner said. "I'll take it."
NOTES: Kings forward Kyle Clifford did not participate in the morning skate. 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 said. "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." Perhaps, but Clifford was not on the ice for pregame warm-ups and was officially scratched in favor of Jordan Nolan.