|STL Leads Series 2 - 1|
BLUES at KINGS
(St. Louis leads best-of-7 series, 2-0)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-MW, FS-W
Big story: This is turning out to be the low-scoring series many expected, with the St. Louis Blues managing only four goals over the first two games -- just one of them coming prior to the third period -- and yet holding a commanding lead. That's because the strong play of the defense and goaltender Brian Elliott has indeed carried over from the end of the regular season, and the Los Angeles Kings have only two goals to show for well over 120 minutes of play. They return to Staples Center knowing if they don't find some offense soon, the Blues may reverse the outcome of last year's playoff meeting and take the brooms to them.
Blues: Barret Jackman has been a solid defender since playing his initial NHL game with St. Louis during the 2001-02 season. In the 10 seasons to follow he's twice played in all 82 games and on three occasions posted a plus/minus of plus-20 or better. One thing he's never done a lot, though, is fill the net with pucks -- his career-high for a season is four, and he has 23 total in 644 regular-season games. He had no goals in 22 postseason games entering Thursday.
Jackman, of course, is a primary reason the Blues recorded a come-from-behind 2-1 win in Game 2, as he scored the decisive goal with 50.4 seconds left in regulation. Patrik Berglund had scored 3:44 into the third to tie the score, while Elliott was strong again with 28 saves.
"I don't think there's one person in the room that thinks we're in control of anything other than the number that says 2-0," coach Ken Hitchcock said, preaching caution. "I don't think we're in control of anything. I don't think they feel like they're in control of anything. This is two teams that are going to fight this right to the end, and I think every player in that locker room knows that. … It's that close. Every shift seems like it's the last shift on earth."
Kings: Following the goaltending gaffe in overtime that cost his team Game 1, Jonathan Quick came right back and blanked St. Louis over the first 40 minutes on Thursday, allowing Los Angeles to get on the board first when Dustin Brown redirected a Mike Richards shot during a two-man advantage in the first period.
But the Kings, who got their only goal in Game 1 in the final minute of regulation with Quick on the bench, were unable to add to the lead despite outshooting the Blues 23-15 heading into the third. Their inability to provide Quick with any sort of insurance would end up proving costly and dropping them into a deep hole heading home.
"We didn't expect to be in [this position], but it's our own fault," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We're in this position. We've been fully prepared for their game, fully prepared for what they're going to do against us and we just haven't stepped up to the plate."
Who's hot: Elliott, who was 4-6 in 12 career playoff games prior to this past week, has posted a .966 save percentage in winning both his starts in this series for the Blues. … Brown, a point-per-game player during the Kings' run to the Stanley Cup in 2012, scored his 11th career playoff goal Thursday. He also had a game-high six hits.
Injury report: Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene has been scratched from each of the first two games with an undisclosed injury. … St. Louis forward Jamie Langenbrunner is skating again, but has been ruled out for the first round. Langenbrunner had hip surgery in February that was expected to sideline him the remainder of the season.
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