2:15 AM EDT, May 3, 2013
ST. LOUIS -- If there's anything to blame Jonathan Quick for in the 2-1 loss that left the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings winless two games into their opening-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues, it's that he didn't score a goal.
Someone's got to do it or the Kings will be on vacation soon and the gap between repeat Cup winners will grow by another year.
Quick bravely took responsibility for their defeat on Thursday, though this was a team burden. It was dropped when Blues defenseman Barret Jackman completed a rally by scoring off a three-on-two rush with 50.4 seconds left in the third period, wristing a shot past the glove of a screened Quick to trigger roars from the crowd at Scottrade Center.
"I gotta stop that. It's my fault. Two games in a row," said Quick, whose misplay of the puck behind his net in Game 1 led to Alex Steen's overtime winner on Tuesday. "I gotta be better."
Quick was good enough. He stopped 23 shots and, before Jackman's effort, yielded only a goal that caromed off Patrik Berglund's foot at 3:44 of the third period.
The Kings' offense, though, wasn't nearly adequate. The Kings have scored two goals on Brian Elliott in two games: one after Quick was pulled for an extra skater in Game 1, and on Thursday a deflection by Dustin Brown of a Mike Richards shot at 9:55 of the first period during a five-on-three advantage.
"We haven't scored a five-on-five goal in almost seven periods," said Coach Darryl Sutter, who reunited the Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams line in a vain search for more scoring.
"It doesn't matter how you translate it. You're not going to win any games if you don't score five on five."
Here's another number: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, NHL teams that have taken 2-0 leads in a best-of-series have won those series 280 of 323 times (86.7%). Those are formidable odds for the Kings to face as they prepare for Game 3 Saturday at Staples Center, even though they had a club-record .813 points percentage at home this season on a 19-4-1 record.
"We didn't expect to be in it, but it's our own fault we're in this position," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "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."
Quick brushed aside suggestions he might have gotten hurt during the warmups when he took a shot in a sensitive area. He also said the Kings' position won't be a new test, though it's worth wondering if he was being less than fully truthful in both responses. "We've just got to go win a game," Quick said. "Up 2-0, down 2-0, just go in to play and win the game."
Thursday's game was as intense and tightly played as the opener, with scrums erupting after nearly every stoppage and every inch of ice hotly contested.
These are the games the Kings won so often last spring, when they took a 3-0 series lead in all four rounds. Those are the shots that Quick, the most valuable player in last year's playoffs, was able to see and stop.
"We're starting to get to them right now, I think," Blues forward David Perron said. "We're trying to get some traffic as many times as we can. We know he's a really good goalie when you get shots from the outside, but you try to get a screen, like on Jackman's goal and also [Berglund] driving the net."
Brown said the Blues played well but the loss was because of the Kings' failures. "We played a really good 40 minutes," he said. "We've got to stay on the body in the third. We didn't have everyone taking the body. The key to our grind is being physical. We let up in the third on the physicality and that's what happens."
Doughty agreed, adding that the Kings didn't go to the net as aggressively as they should have.
"You don't get down and gritty in playoffs, you're not going to win the playoff series," he said. "If we don't start to do that soon we're going to be in big trouble."
If they aren't already.
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